Homegirl London pays homage to Sheila Bownas. It wasn’t until Sheila Bownas passed away in 2007 that her artistic talents were fully realised. When her family were organising her estate, they couldn’t believe what they found at her home in Linton near Skipton. There were hundreds of painting and sketches which no one even knew existed. She used her garage as a workshop and studio where she built up a collection of portraits of local people, landscapes and still life.
Sheila Bownas – Patterns
These treasures were auctioned in 2008 and bought by Chelsea Cefai. Chelsea has given a new lease of life to Sheila’s legacy with the Sheila Bownas archive – retro pattern table lamps, cushion covers and poster prints plus collaborations with designer-makers. I caught up with Chelsea to find out more.
Meet Sheila Bownas
Sheila was educated in Skipton and showed artistic promise from an early age. She secured a junior art scholarship at Skipton Art School which she attended from 1941 to 1946. She gained a scholarship to the Slade School of Art in London until 1950 where she won several prizes for her work. Her post graduate studies took place in Florence, Italy where she became interested in textile and wallpaper designs and also sold her art.
During the late 1940s and 1960s Sheila studied and lived in London. She also worked on commissions for Liberty of London, Marks and Spencer, Crown Wallpapers and the German wallpaper company PW Bruck-Messel. She was also asked to work on pictures for the Natural History Museum for the botanical section. After a brief time working in the Scilly Isles on Tresco Island she returned to her cottage at Linton until she passed away in 2007.
Very little had been recorded about Sheila because she was a very private person. It is only through her god daughter reading her letters that her career details were brought to light. Thankfully, her talent is now being realised and showcased through the Sheila Bownas archives.
View the Sheila Bownas Collection
The Sheila Bownas website has a collection of products featuring her colourful patterns – table lamps, cushion covers, poster prints and cards.
Table Lamps: Lamp shades with linen outer shade and hand rolled linen inner featuring a Sheila Bownas pattern. The base is made from hand turned ash.
Cushion Covers: Feature Sheila’s patterns which are printed on one side onto linen.
Poster Prints: Range of limited edition Giclée prints on 310gsm fine art paper which are signed and embossed with the archive stamp.
Greeting Cards: Featuring Sheila’s patterns which are handmade.
Chelsea has also worked with a number of designers and companies – Parlour, Zoe Darlington and Pedlars to produce beautiful sofas, chairs and lamp shades.
Parlour Edwin Sofa
Zoe Darlington Lamp Shades
Buy the Sheila Bownas Products
To buy the products go to www.sheilabownas.com. Price guide: Lamps £125, Cushions £40-75, Poster Prints £65 and Greeting Cards £2.95-3.95.
Author: Homegirl London. Photography: Sheila Bownas Archive. Thanks: Chelsea Cefai.