back   |   home   |   next
international painting annual 3 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Tony Bowen
Brighton, East Sussex

detail image


I live and work in Brighton, East Sussex (UK). I graduated in Fine Art Panting in 1983. Following postgraduate study in education in 1985, I have divided my time between personal practice and work in art and design education (lecturing and curriculum leadership).

These photographs (from the ongoing series "Scratch - Urban Palimpsests") explore found glass surfaces in various locations in London and Sussex.

Over time echoes of various narratives emerge, combining natural marks (detritus, moisture, weathering) and deliberate ones (a tender and intimate declaration, a violent outburst, a confessional message, an incoherent gesture reminiscent of some kind of primal automatism). Gradually, various elements arrive and coexist - often quite briefly - leaving an unusual trace of what each space has witnessed.

The ambiguity, the contexts and the rawness of these natural palimpsests fascinates me. It is rarely clear how and why these stories emerged. Half-told, obscure, semi-visible, over-written, often crude, always fleeting ghosts of experience catch the light occasionally to reveal a mysterious calligraphy and to trigger a compelling sense of forensic curiosity. At their best, two or more incidents combine to offer unintended juxtapositions, interpretations and potential meanings.

This body of work seeks firstly to examine this rather unusual mark making, to amplify unheard voices, and encourage exploration of the corners and recesses of our immediate environments. It also seeks to celebrate the richness and beauty found in the banal; the ordinary; the present, and  to find new ways of looking at landscape.

Trained as a painter, but with an emerging interest in making photographs, I am very interested in the parallels between the two. Formal elements interest me as much as narrative content, and it's hard not to draw from this work (in addition to the intentions outlined above) a number of recurrent preoccupations in my practice, common to a range of disciplines:

The examination of found surfaces in natural, domestic and urban environments interests me hugely, for example, as does the exploration and interpretation of marks (both within and beyond consciousness or intention). For some time I have been continuously drawn to ideas about automatism, primitivism, catharsis and gesture in painting. I have also flirted with ideas found in graphology - not just with handwriting but more widely [in an age where hand made marks are becoming a rarity this feels increasingly relevant]. A long standing interest in how we deal with fragmentary and contradictory information is another preoccupation. In these respects the value of openness and 'unresolvedness' in art remains very important in my work.

A hunter rather than a farmer (to use Jeff Wall's analogy), this work is made with no intervention on location and very little manipulation other than cropping and subtle adjustments.


born: 1961, United Kingdom


Manchester Polytechnic, UK, PGCE 1985
Lancashire Polytechnic, UK, BA Hons Fine Art, 1983
Manchester Polytechnic, UK, Diploma in Art and Design, 1980

selected awards/honors

IPA (International Photography Awards), Lucie Awards: Honourable Mention - Fine Art Landscape (non pro), LA, CA, 2012:

selected publications

IPA (International Photography Awards) CA, 2012
The Art of Photography Show 2012, Cat, San Diego, CA; p. 15, 2012
CUT - Arch 3, Manchester; Arts Review pp. 352-353, May 1989

selected solo or two-person exhibits

DPM Images UK: 'Scratch - Urban Palimpsests', Brighton, UK, 2012

selected group shows

San Diego Art Institute: 'The Art of Photography Show', San Diego, CA, 2012
Kiernan Gallery: 'Terrain' Lexington, VA, 2012
Dark Room Gallery: 'Secrets and Mysteries' Essex, VT, 2012


Copyright © 2006-2013 Manifest Press