Bowles, Ian

1946 - 2018

Artist Ian Bowles was born in 1946 and from an early age was drawn to artistic pursuits.  He studied at London’s Sir John Cass College of Art, specialising in ceramics, and was a full-time professional artist for over 30 years.

He worked in dual media both as a hugely accomplished watercolour artist and also as a sculptor crafting finely detailed birds in ceramic, bronze and silver.  He travelled extensively throughout the British Isles to observe and sketch birds in their natural habitats and his work reflects the long hours spent studying them in his acutely observed attention to detail.  Feathers are meticulously painted with very fine brushes to give them a lifelike appearance whilst backgrounds are, by contrast, painterly and impressionistic, creating the atmosphere of habitat and landscape. 

He regularly exhibited his work both locally to his home in Kent and also in London where he hosted several one-man exhibitions.  He worked closely with organisations such as the National Trust and the World Wildlife Fund whilst The Medici Society created a range of stationary using his artwork and the RSPB regularly commissions him to create art for their calendars.  For 20 years he had a stand at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show which he describes as “magic” and which introduced his art to a wide range of clients from both home and abroad.  One of his fondest memories of the show is meeting The Duke of Edinburgh who visited his stand and bought a large painting of English partridges which now hangs in his private cottage on the Sandringham Estate.

Bowles’s sculptures are beautifully observed and each bird is infused with personality.  He made a range of life-sized models of game birds such as grouse, partridges and woodcocks in bronze which he described as a “softer and warmer medium” than silver. His unique collaboration with Hancocks resulted in a limited-edition range of life-size garden birds rendered in silver and mounted on textured and painted bronze such as the tiny wren delicately perched on a pumpkin or the elegant swallow resting on an upturned flower pot.

Until his recent death in November 2018 Bowles had worked from his home in Kent, a 15th Century cottage which he shared with his wife, drawing endless inspiration from the beautiful countryside and wildlife surrounding his studio.