Siân Bowen studied Fine Art at University of Newcastle and Edinburgh College of Art and spent four years in Japan having been awarded a Monbusho Scholarship to Kyoto University of Arts. She has developed drawing-centred projects in a diverse range of environments including transient architectural spaces, archives, archaeological sites, herbaria and museums. These have taken place in China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Russia - as well as in the UK. Recently her focus has also been on the production of video works and artist’s books.
Ongoing interests are in the boundaries between damage and the creative impulse, and in light and the drawn surface. Other key interests include the potential that drawing has to interrogate materiality and states of flux and the multi-sensory nature of museum heritage. She has become increasingly interested in how her works might engage with concerns regarding the vulnerability and sustainability of plant life and of the natural world.
As Resident Artist in Drawing at the V&A, London, 2006-8, she developed a body of site-specific works on paper relating drawing to the museum context, exhibition display and the V&A’s Asian and Word & Image Collections. From 2010-12, she worked with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, as Guest Artist in Drawing to examine the relationship between materiality and the ephemeral; prints from the Nova Zembla collection, conserved after having been discovered frozen in the Arctic for three hundred years, provided the framework for a new body of works that formed a solo exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in 2012. The project included a series of video works filmed whilst travelling through the Russian Arctic.
Between 2013-18 she developed a studio and archive at Northumbria University, Newcastle, relating to the material and conceptual aspects of paper in Newcastle. As Professor of Drawing at Arts University Bournemouth, she is currently developing a series of interconnected projects and exhibitions: Collapsible Spaces: Places of Temporary Refuge, Camouflage and Retreat.
She has recently completed a series of twenty-five unique artist’s books in response to rare plants in Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Herbaria (RBGE) and protected forest and coastal areas of Southern India. These works, presented by Galerie DRUCK und BUCH, Vienna, led directly on from her Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Sensing & Presencing Rare Plants through Contemporary Drawing Practice, (2017-21) – during which time she collaborated closely with subject specialists at RBGE and was Guest Artist-in-Residence at Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary, India set in a remote region of moist deciduous rainforest.
She will carry out a three-year project as Artist-in-Residence at the Economic Botany Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 2022-25 and is participating in the on-going international project, EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss. She maintains studios in Northumberland and the Western Isles.