BOWYER, William

1926 - 2015

Arthur William Bowyer, was born in Leek, Staffordshire on 25 May 1926, son of Frank Bowyer (16 September 1900-1963), colliery worker, and his wife Agnes Marie Donaway (10 August 1899-1947), who married at Leek in 1920 and in 1939 were living at 116 Prime Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. During the Second World War, William was conscripted to work in a coalmine and after a long day at the colliery he would set off for Burslem School of Art, where he would try to catch some sleep before the life class started and where he exhibited his watercolours and won 1st prize for his portraits in 1943. In 1945, he was accepted at the Royal College of Art, London, where his tutors included Ruskin Spear (1911-1990) and Carel Weight (1908-1997). In 1963 he won the City of London Art Award and 19711982 was Head of Fine Art at Maidstone College of Art. In 1988 the National Portrait Gallery acquired his portraits of miner's leader Arthur Scargill and cricketer Viv Richards and in the same year the MCC commissioned him to paint the bi-centenary game at Lord's. A regular exhibitor in club and group shows and at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, but his first London solo show was not until 1983, when a retrospective was held at Messum's Gallery. His work is figurative with strong influences from predecessors such as John Constable and J.M.W. Turner and his landscapes concentrate on the River Thames and the Suffolk coast around Walberswick, but his love of cricket also leads to his paintings. His links with Walberswick began in 1959 when he and Alfred Heyworth (1926-1976) were touring East Anglia with a painting kit and later he and his family spent long holidays in a caravan on the edge of the marsh, progressing to a house in the village to which he added a purpose-built studio. Elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Arts on 25 April 1974 and a Royal Academician on 24 March 1981 and his memberships include the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and was hon. secretary of the New English Art Club for 30 years. He married at Leek, Staffordshire in 1951, Vera Mary née Small and they had two sons, artists Francis D Bowyer (born 1952) and Jason Richard Bowyer (born 1957) and they lived at 12 Cleveland Avenue, Chiswick, London, spending the six summer months at Walberswick. He died on 1 March 2015. His work is in collections including the Royal Academy of Arts, the Arts Council of Great Britain, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, Huffman and Boyle, New Jersey, the Museum at Lord's Cricket Ground, and The Prince of Wales Collection.

Works by This Artist