Designer Desire: Sheila Bownas

Mosaic of Sheila Bownas textile designs | H is for Home

What a coincidence that, just a week after our trip to the Yorkshire Dales, we’re featuring one of its local creatives.

Sheila Bownas (1925-2007) was a fine artist and surface pattern designer from the village of Linton in Craven near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. In 1946, she won a scholarship to London’s Slade School of Fine Art where she won further awards which included a year’s extension to study History of Art in Florence. She freelanced as a textile and wallpaper designer for companies such as Liberty and Co., Marks and Spencer and Laura Ashley. She also worked for the Natural History Museum in the 1960s, creating botanical studies. She returned to Linton in the 1970s, where she settled unobtrusively for the rest of her life. She was the only child of the village shopkeepers, she never married nor had children of her own.

Some of Sheila Bownas’ design archive was rediscovered by Chelsea Cefai, an art gallery professional, when it came up for sale at an auction house in Ilkley in 2008. Cefai purchased some 210 of her original textile pattern prints and slowly set about researching the designer and celebrating her designs.

Bonas was indefatigable in her efforts to secure salaried employment. She apparently applied for around jobs in the 1950s and 60s. In 1959 in yet another rejection letter, this time from Crown Wallpaper, Bonas was told:

Thank you for your letter enclosing your design… I have decided to retain this design so would you please let us have your invoice? With reference to your desire to obtain a position in our studio, the Director feels that should an appointment be made at all, a male designer would be preferable…

Last summer, a retrospective of her work was shown at Rugby Art Gallery & Museum and is currently showing at Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery until 7th January 2018. If you’re unable to make it, a catalogue of the exhibition is available.

Cefai has set about collaborating with artists & designers reintroducing Bonas’ work in limited-edition prints, furniture, ceramics and other homewares.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, Cefai shared:

It’s been hard work and there have been times when I felt like giving up but then I feel like it’s something I have to do. I love her work and it saddens me to think that an artist with such wonderful talent could so easily slip through the net of recognition That’s what drives me. Sheila Bownas is not just a number in a file now, she’s a name in the limelight.

Have a look at the Sheila Bownas website for many more of her wonderful designs.

Portrait of Sheila Bownascredit

Additional image credits:

The Guardian | The Northern Echo

Designer Desire: John J. Reiss

Mosaic of John J. Reiss book illustrations | H is for Home

I can’t actually remember when or where I first happened across the bold & colourful illustrations of John J. Reiss.

Portrait of John J. Reiss

He’s the author and illustrator of a trio of young children’s books, Numbers, Shapes and Colors. He also illustrated Statistics a young children’s maths book written by Jane Jonas Srivastava.

Although highly regarded, he doesn’t seem to be that well-known outside of his home city of Milwaukee. He worked extensively there designing exhibition catalogues, launch invitations and ads for the city’s Art Center (now Museum).

There is quite a detailed biography of the designer on the museum’s blog, written only last month.

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Additional image credits:

Simon & Schuster

Designer Desire: Rodney Peppé

Mosaic of Rodney Peppé artworks | H is for Home

Rodney Peppé is a children’s book author and illustrator as well as being a paper artist and mechanical toy maker. He’s probably best know by young children of the late 80s to the present for his two series of books – Huxley Pig and Angelmouse.

We know him from the lovely vintage trays that he illustrated for Crown Merton – we’re lucky enough to have one with the peacock design.

His books and trays come up every so often on eBay, Etsy and Amazon . He doesn’t sell his toys. He does, however, have a book that teaches you how to build your own!

Rodney Peppé at his exhibition at the Ruthin Craft Centre, Wales - March 2013 © Echocredit

You can’t merely look at stills of Rodney Peppé’s automata, you don’t get the magic of the movement. So, have a look at the short film below to fully appreciate his skill and workmanship.

Additional image credits:

Ceridwen Hazelchild Design | Mission Art Gallery | Ruthin Craft Centre

Bookmarks: Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home children's book by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen | H is for Home

We’ve not written a book review in AGES and this one’s just a little bit different to our usual fare.

Front cover detail of Home Sweet Home children's book by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen | H is for Home

Home Sweet Home is a children’s book – recommended for ages 5+. However, even as adults, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it… and, as regular readers will know, we appreciate and collect iconic children’s books!

Title page of Home Sweet Home children's book by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen | H is for Home

Published earlier this month (October 2017), it was written by Mia Cassany and beautifully illustrated by Paula Blumen.

'Queenie in London' page in Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen

Throughout the 40 pages, you’re shown around various interiors & exteriors from around the world – guided by the pets-in-residence.

'Pierre & Papillon in Paris' page in Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen

There’s Eva the St Bernard in Iceland, Coco the cat in Brooklyn… there’s even a tortoise named Taiki who lives in Kyoto, Japan!

'Juan in Seville' page in Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen

This book is a really fun way for kids (and grown-ups!) to find out about other parts of the world. It teaches facts such as San Francisco is very hilly, Giethoorn in the Netherlands is car-free and that houses in Ibiza are painted white to reflect the light and keep them cool.

'A home isn't a home without a pet!' in Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen

It’s a book that warrants plenty of return visits.

'Rex in San Francisco' page in Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen

It’s such a charming read…

'Bonaparte in Provence' page in Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen

…and the illustrations are full of lovely detail that reveal something new every time you flick through the pages.

'Chang in Hong Kong' page in Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen

This book is a fantastic Christmas or birthday present for any pet-loving, budding interior decorator!

'Drago in Capri' page in Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Paula Blumen

Home Sweet Home is available from the publishers in UK/Europe & US/Canada and from Amazon, The Book Depository and Waterstones.

[Many thanks to Ellen at Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for the review copy]

Designer Desire: Sara Tyson

Mosaic of Sara Tyson illustrations | H is for Home

We tend to feature vintage and mid-century modern artists and designers in our Designer Desire series. However, the work of Sara Tyson stopped me in my tracks. Tyson is an award-winning Canadian graphic designer and illustrator with over 30 years’ experience. Her work has graced the pages of periodicals such as Harvard Business Review, National Endowment for the Humanities, Smithsonian Magazine and The Washington Post.

She says she’s inspired by early Christian and Byzantine art and I think she has a similarity in style to one of my favourite artists, Stanley Spencer – especially Shipbuilding. A selection of her work is available to purchase from the i Spot website (link below). I’d really like copies of her ’12 Days of Christmas’ series of holiday greeting cards; they’re beautiful!

Sara Tysoncredit

Additional image credits:

Behance | Creative Finder | i Spot

Designer Desire: Owen Davey

Mosaic of Owen Davey illustrations | H is for Home

We often feature a Scandinavian designer whose heyday was the 50s to the 70s in our weekly Designer Desire series. Surprise, surprise – this week we’ve chosen a young, contemporary, award-winning, British illustrator, Owen Davey!

Owen trained at Falmouth University and is currently based in Leicester. He has a long list of prestigious and diverse clients including Facebook, Google, Sony, AirBnB, Transport for London, Lego, The Guardian, New York Times, National Geographic, the BBC, GQ, Stella Artois, EasyJet, Virgin, Jamie Oliver, Microsoft and Unilever.

Owen describes his style as, “Stylised. Friendly. Retro. Colourful. Narrative” and is inspired by, “Life, nature and aesthetics”.

He has designed the graphics for the TwoDots puzzle game and even finds the time to be in a band!

He has work available to buy in his shop. His illustrated children’s books can be found on Amazon.

Have a look at this amazing time-lapse video below of his work process creating his beautiful Dungeness crab.

You can see more of his work on his Instagram feed or you can follow him on Twitter.

Portrait of Owen Daveycredit