Born in Cardiff in 1943, Bowen’s slipware stands out for its reinvigoration of a distinctively native tradition. It is akin to Michael Cardew’s very fresh approach to decorated earthenware, but with a gestural type of throwing, trailing, brushwork and incising that is Bowen’s own. He trained initially as a painter, but went on to an apprenticeship with Michael Leach (himself an original and expressive slipware potter) in north Devon, a county in which Bowen has been based ever since, in the village of Shebbear.
Bowen has an innate feeling for his materials, sourced locally, and an ability to use rich deep glazing and surface marking as a true development of the form, not simply as decoration. His tableware has a tactile warmth and intimacy, while his large jugs and tall covered jars can have considerable sculptural presence. He combines the skills of a fine thrower with a painter’s ability to use colour and line with expressive verve. His pots have never lost their sense of adventure, of renewal.