The Sheila Bownas Archive

During a home renovation project back in 2008 Chelsea Cefai was hunting around for some artwork for the walls when she came across some surface pattern designs at auction. An interest in the woman who designed them was sparked and, having worked in the museum and art gallery sector for many years, Chelsea realised the importance of preservation and of keeping collections together. She had a sudden urge to save them and so took the plunge and bought the entire collection.

Sheila Bownas, the designer behind the collection, attended Skipton Art School in the 1940s, later gaining a county art scholarship to attend the Slade School of Art in London, where she won several prizes including the 1948 summer competition. Sheila had five paintings accepted and exhibited at The Royal Academy of Arts and in 1949 her postgraduate studies took her to Florence in Italy where she read History of Art. Living in London during the late 1950s and 1960s, she worked on numerous commissions for clients including Liberty of London, Crown Wallpapers and Marks and Spencer.

Now after several years of hard work resolving legal and copyright issues Chelsea has launched a collection of limited edition prints cushions and fabrics from the Sheila Bownas Archive. The collection celebrates Sheila's exploration of colour, clean edges and an eye for clever repeats. The geometric patterns revive the mood of the 1950s and 60s, and still feel fresh for today's interiors.

"I love her work and it saddens me to think that an artist with such wonderful talent could so easily slip through the net of recognition, " says Chelsea. "Some of Sheila's designs have not been in production for over half a century and it's wonderful to see a selection of these brought back to life."

The collection is available online at

Images: Chelsea Cefai

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