Sarah Bowman: In and out of the Window

A cup of tea, a sweet treat, and a lovely view: who could ask for more?

British artist Sarah Bowman is known for her ‘though the window’ paintings, which impart a soothing sense of peace, calm and serenity. 

Sarah in her home studio.

This unique hybrid of a still life in the foreground with a landscape beyond invites the viewer to enjoy a dual narrative, with the chosen objects and the space around them telling one story and the outdoor scene another.

Bowman has said that her landscapes are derived from memory; they’re an amalgamation of places she’s visited such as Cornwall, Devon, the Scilly Isles, and Andalucia.

She actually lives in Ashburton, Devon, where she works at home in an attic studio. She and her husband own the White Space Art Gallery in nearby Totnes, a market town with a thriving arts community. 

Sarah works in oil on board or canvas, using a gentle, muted palette. A harmonious blend of subdued greens, blues and greys with pops of pinks, yellows, oranges and purples speak of idyllic coastlines, stone quays, fishing villages, patchwork fields, quaint cottages and rolling hills dotted with sheep.

I never begin a painting knowing exactly how it will end up. They start with the landscape and the windowsill or the table and the rest emerges later, the objects placed last, perhaps a curtain will slip in at the side as if a breeze floated in. Each element of the composition is a reaction to the last thing painted. I like to work on at a few paintings at a time so that they stay fresh.

Both Sarah’s father and sister are established artists. She studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and Falmouth Art College. In 2005 she won the prestigious Royal West of England Academy Mary Fedden Award. When I first saw some of Sarah’s paintings, I thought of Mary Fedden’s innovative still lifes with their chosen objects pushed to the front of the picture plane with distinct landscapes beyond (I featured Mary Fedden in this post). 

A trip to Tuscany in her late teens to see Renaissance frescoes also figured in the development of Bowman’s style (foreground narrative framing a distant view, penchant for primitive/unscathed landscape, “scrumbly texture of her paint”). 

Of course not all of Sarah’s pieces are window views. Largely inspired by the shapes and colors of nature and quite keen on gardening, she’s also painted beautiful florals, domestic animals, and a series of still life tablescapes that are studies in pared-back simplicity.

Along with Mary Fedden, Bowman’s favorite artists include Winifred Nicholson, Ann Redpath, Christopher Wood, and Mary Newcombe. 

In addition to the White Space Art Gallery, Bowman’s work has been shown at the Wren Gallery, the Ainscough Contemporary Art Gallery, and at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Original oils and prints may be purchased via White Space Art Gallery or Cricket Fine Art.

Enjoy this short video of Sarah discussing work related to one of her solo exhibitions, “The Rite of Spring.”

What’s the view outside your window today? 🙂


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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