To label Deborah Bowness an ‘Artist’ or a ‘Designer’ undermines the core values of her work. In reality, she is both.
Deborah grew up in a village on the outskirts of York. She graduated from Leeds College of Art & Design in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in surface pattern & textile design. She went on to graduate from the Royal College of Art in 1999 with an MA in constructed textiles. It was at the RCA where Deborah was first inspired to challenge preconceived notions of wallpaper. In the mid 90’s, minimalism and paint effects were favoured over wallpaper in interior decorating. Rewind to the claustrophobic interiors of the previous decades, when wallpapering an entire room with repeat patterns and a co-ordinating borders, was the norm. It is understandable why wallpaper had fallen out of fashion. Deborah, wishing to make her art functional, introduced a very different perspective on wallpaper.
She produced a body of work called ‘Hooks & Frocks’. Photographs Deb took of hanging dresses, were put together in montage and then digitally printed, life sized, onto drops of wallpaper. The monochrome images were brought to life by adding silkscreened colour and hand painted detail. Homage to trompe l’oeil. A deliberate shun of the repeat pattern. Deborah never intended her work to dominate a room. Rather it was to sit quietly, playfully interacting with the objects and furniture around it.
this is not a work of Art…Wallpaper by Deborah Bowness has made a place in history. Respectfully acknowledging Deborah for her innovation and unique design style, the V&A, The Whitworth Art Gallery, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs include her work in their print collections. Deborah’s contribution to the industry has been noted in a number of publications. ‘The Papered Wall’ by Lesley Hoskins, ‘Wallpaper History Review’ by Christine Woods and ‘Walls are Talking’ by Gill Saunders are amongst them.
Speaking of books, Deborah launched ‘Genuine Fake Bookshelf’ wallpaper at 100% Design in 2002. This played a significant part in the revival of the wallpaper library.
Over the years, Deborah has been commissioned to design wallpapers for a wide variety of clients including Polydor, Lacroix, Reebok, Paul Smith and Selfridges. Deborah welcomes the challenge and the inspiration she gains through working collaboratively.
Deborah is now working in a studio over-looking the sea, in St Leonards, on the South coast of England. In a small factory near York, in the north of England, Deborah’s wallpapers are produced and dispatched to destinations across the world.