About Sheila Bownas
The prolific talent of Sheila Bownas was hidden from everyone and even her family until after her death in 2007. When relatives took a look around her home in Linton, near Skipton, they were amazed to discover hundreds of paintings and textile designs in her small Dales studio.
Educated in Skipton, Sheila showed artistic promise from an early age, securing a junior art scholarship to attend Skipton Art School from 1941 to 1946. She later gained a county art scholarship to attend the Slade School of Art in London, where she won several prizes including the 1948 summer competition for ‘Figures Beneath Trees’. Sheila had five paintings accepted and exhibited at The Royal Academy of Arts and in 1949 her postgraduate studies took her to Florence in Italy where she read the history of art.
Her interest was drawn to surface pattern design for textiles and wallpapers as a more comfortable alternative to selling her art. Living in London during the late 1950s and 1960s, Sheila worked on numerous commissions for Liberty of London, Crown Wallpapers, Marks and Spencer and the German firm PW Bruck-Messel. Sheila was also commissioned to work on pictures for the National History Museum, mainly in the botanical section, and she enjoyed a brief time working on Tresco Island in the Scilly Isles.
Sheila returned to Yorkshire in later life where for many years she continued with her passion for landscape and portrait painting.
Chelsea Cefai purchased the archive in 2008 and is faithfully bringing a selection of Sheila’s patterns back to life.