Jason Bowyer died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday 17 February 2019.
Son of Walberswick residents artist William Bowyer and sculptor Vera Bowyer, Jason was surrounded by creativity as a child. He studied Foundation and BA Fine Art at Camberwell School of Art, then a Post Graduate Diploma in Painting at Royal Academy Schools. According to the New English Art Club, where he had been President and Founder of the NEAC Drawing School, this was despite his childhood desire to be ‘centre-forward for Fulham and England and to have lifted the World Cup. Football’s loss was most definitely the art world’s gain, as Jason became a full-time painter but remained an avid sports fan.'
William and Vera bought a caravan here in the early 1980s after first visiting the village for a painting trip in 1959. They then bought a house on Lodge Road where three generations of Bowyers have spent their summers; his wife Claire, a ceramic sculptor, their son Leo, a graphic designer and his brother Francis also an artist of repute and his family and their sister Emma with her three children, Chester, Asia and Andy. Francis and Jason held annual painting courses in the village and Jason painted many views from the dunes and around the area over the years. The brothers were also well regarded for taking over running the Residents vs Visitors Cricket Match, established by William, after his death in 2015. The Bowyers have been a Walberswick institution for over forty years. The universal response to hearing of his death in the village has been shock and a sense of loss to the community, he was much loved by all whose lives he touched.
A creative light that illuminated the beauty of our village has gone out.
Jason exhibited his work through his studio and various select private galleries and worked in collaboration with a number of artist groups. He worked on commissions and teaching projects with many museums, schools, charity organisations and corporate companies. He was member of Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Pastel Society as well as the New English Art Club where, following in his father’s footsteps, he became President from 2008-13. You can read more about Jason in and interview on the New England Arts Club site.
Claire Ireland, Jason’s wife, writes:
I met Jason in December 1978 while we were both at Camberwell School of Art and my introduction to Walberswick started the following summer. He so loved the village, having spent many summers there as a child, and this passion for the place continued throughout his life. Leo and I have had so many wonderful letters from friends, family, neighbours and artists. It’s astounding how many people loved him. He has left such a lasting impression. One friend wrote about a stay in Walberswick, while they were all at college, "I remember a lovely trip that some of us made, I think in the second year, to a caravan on the Suffolk coast: there were long walks, kite flying, swimming in the sea at night, it was magically luminous with some kind of algae. That trip was Jason’s idea: in retrospect, it was almost Arcadian." He was of course referring to the phosphorescence, which I have only just discovered that is also called Sea Sparkle. Jason painted that sparkle countless times - always on location in Plein Air - through all weathers.
On this most recent visit to Walberswick the weather was spectacular for February and I am so grateful that he was able to paint on his beloved beach. We had a lovely few days, something I will always cherish. Seeing all our lovely friends, drinks in both pubs, sitting having coffee outside the Black Dog and taking our favourite walk. The walk starts at the end of Lodge Road through woodland, lots of dead trees, very sculptural and it always looks like a film set to me. Then we walked through the reeds, and eventually onto the beach, checking on our beach hut.
I’d like to thank everyone for all their messages and kind words it means so much to Leo and me. We will have a gathering in Walberswick in the summer, on the beach or at our hut and Jason's Funeral will take place on Wednesday 20th March at 3.20pm at Mortlake Crematorium, Townmead Rd, Richmond, TW9 4EN
There will be tapas and wine at our local pub, The Griffin (Brook Rd South, Brentford, TW8 0NP) from about 4.30 - 6.30. Please note you can park in the streets around the pub but from 6pm - 8pm there are parking restrictions
Rather than flowers - If anyone would like to make a donation in memory of Jason to the Artist's General Benevolent Institution (AGBI) with cheques sent to their address at:
It is a charity that looks after artists and their families, who are in need and has always been close to the Bowyer family's heart, a collection box and envelopes will also provided at the ceremony.
Here are some memories from New England Arts Club members:
“My first acquaintance with Jason was receiving a postcard with a charcoal drawing of Leo as a baby, written in his unique curlicue script, congratulating me on becoming the New English Drawing Scholar. I met him later in the year and was delighted to learn that we were both fans of Fulham Football Club. I guess that combination of the two clubs: Fulham and the New English led us to become pals. We would always have a little discussion of the highs and lows or should I say woes of our team after committee meetings down at his studio in Kew Bridge Steam Museum where he painted such marvellous paintings of the museum workshop and furnace. I was always incredibly inspired by his work – grand in scale, half completed on the walls around us – marvellous beginnings that called out “paint me! Every now and then we would meet for a drink and talk about painting and life. He would tell stories of his father and Ruskin Spear drinking in a similar pub decades earlier, or about when he was Artist in Residence at Fulham F.C. in the mid-80s making wonderful paintings of the fans on the terraces. He always looked the part at Fulham in his long black leather jacket and greying beard and black-and-white-striped scarf. I love that he painted himself with the scarf in one of his self portraits, capturing the marvellous Bowyer profile. He was a painter taken away at the peak of his powers. And he was a dear friend to so many of us. He steered the New English during his five years as President with skill and great humour. During those years he remained a great advocate for the importance of ‘good drawing’, by which I think he meant: intense looking and working through, finding rightness through adjustment and searching, drawing both describing mark making and placement within the act of painting and drawing in its own right as pencil or charcoal on paper. And it was fitting that the prize that was left in his father and mother’s bequest at the New English Annual be for a drawing.” Alex Fowler
“I remember, as a nervous new NEAC member, being next to Jason in the line up to welcome HRH The Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (then Camilla Parker Bowles) to the reception at Ken Howard’s studio in South Bolton Gardens. Diana Calvert had given us the protocol on not referring to the Queen as ‘your mum’ etc, and when it came to it, I could barely look Prince Charles in the eye. As he passed on to Jason, I was astounded as he engaged the prince in conversation headlining the importance of drawing and asking him if he would be interested in supporting the NEAC Drawing School. All this in the space of a handshake.” Peter Brown
“I shall miss Jason hugely as someone with great integrity, huge generosity of spirit, with a wicked sense of humour. I always looked forward to seeing him.” Tessa Coleman
“My first real memory of Jason is going for a coffee on the Haymarket with him, after an Executive Committee Meeting about twenty years ago. We’d spoken before but never at length, and I was interested to find out more about him. It turned out that we’d both been at the RA Schools, and he’d been to Camberwell too, and I remember him saying that it was at the RA that he’d realised that he was allowed to enjoy painting, unlike Camberwell where enjoyment was forbidden. He was about ten years older than I, a deep and self-assured voice in meetings, but never remotely arrogant. Just quite at home, and very committed to the Club. He was always scheming for the New English, even though he did once consider a complete change of its name, when he was in charge of publicity and finding it hard to get newspapers to take an interest. We had several hush-voiced conversations about this in pubs – “It’s the name, Charles,” he whispered, knowing the upset the idea would cause. “As soon as they hear ‘English’ they don’t want to know. And then ‘Club’. Might as well forget it!” He was a person of huge integrity and great humility, and that is reflected in his paintings. They are of places where people do tough, honest, hard work; his portraits are straightforward, truthful, never flattering, evasive, smudged or fudged. For those of us who find these qualities difficult to achieve, he was an example. He was also cheeky, insightful, and the warmest of friends, and in lots of ways, for me he was the New English.” Charles Williams