Artist Profile

Roy Cowan

Born 1918, Died 2006

Born in Wellington, Roy Cowan, along with his wife Juliet Peter, was known for his contribution to New Zealand modern art, primarily through the mediums of print-making and ceramics. Cowan studied teaching at the Wellington teachers college, where he specialised in art. In 1953 he was awarded the Association of Art Societies Scholarship and studied at the Slade School in London, where he developed his passion for lithography and pottery.

Cowan saw a strong connection between his preferred art-forms: "Making lithographic prints requires as much invention as goes into painting plus the kind of knowledge and technique that goes into making pottery. Printmaking, with its craft aspect, is really a bridge between painting and pottery."

The imagery in Roy Cowan's prints exhibit strong design elements. The simplicity and strength of his lithographs allow the image to be just as successful on a ceramic plate or bowl. Similarly, the strong sculptural effects of his lithographs are comparable to his sculptural ceramics of the late 1960s and 1970s.

Much of Roy Cowan's art explored the nature of oppositions, juxtaposing binary images to form an harmonious work. Nature and technology, interior and exterior, momentous and minor stand together in his art, an exploration of opposites as expressed in the words of modernist poets.

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