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 destruction and the creative impulse; and in light and the drawn surface. Another of her principal interests is in using drawing to interrogate materiality and states of flux, and the multi-sensory nature of museum heritage
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 Far Eastern 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. Additionally, recent video works have challenged experiential understanding of time and space, whilst current works explore ideas connected to the collection, preservation and storage of ephemeral objects including rare plant specimens.
In 2013 she established a facility for research and teaching relating to the material and conceptual aspects of paper (PSN) at Northumbria University, where she was a Professor of Fine Art until February 2019. As Professor of Drawing, 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 new body of work in response to rare plants in Oxford and Edinburgh herbaria and protected forest and coastal areas of Southern India (Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Sensing & Presencing Rare Plants through Contemporary Drawing Practice, 2017-19) - in 2018 she was artist-in-residence at Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary set in the moist deciduous rainforest. She 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.