Anita Bowerman’s uplifting, colour-filled home is full of her fabulous paintings, and paper cuts. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Simon Hulme.
Most of us are afraid of using lots of bright colour in our homes as the chances of getting it wrong are quite high and no-one wants a sitting room that looks like the set of a toddlers’ TV programme.
Artist Anita Bowerman is a rare exception who is quite happy to transfer the confidence she shows on canvas into the interiors of her country cottage. The result is truly uplifting and visitors often leave determined to bring a bit of va va voom to their own “boring” décor.
“I’d never paint anything black or brown and I never wear black. I love colour, it makes you feel happy,” says Anita, amid a palette that is predominantly Cerulean blue by eco-friendly Lakeland Paints teamed with a bright mauve and sea green
She planned to paint the walls of the sitting room yellow until her husband, Pete, rebelled against it. So, she went for the present combination, which perfectly matches her painting of The Stray in Harrogate.
The curtains by Elni Interiors are in Designers Guild fabrics and it’s no surprise to hear that she is a big fan of the firm’s founder, Tricia Guild, who is equally brave with colour.
The sofas have been recovered to match and the cushions, which she sells, are printed with her own designs, as are the fireplace tiles. She also painted the Laura Ashley cabinet in mauve and added jazzy new door knobs from one of her favourite shops, Anthropologie.
A mix of new and vintage accessories and keepsakes, along with fresh flowers from Claire Slater, add even more colour and character. There is also evidence of Anita’s attention to detail. The curtain pole was handmade to her specification and she insisted on replacing the chrome window latches with better looking brass ones from Jim Lawrence.
Anita’s art work, which ranges from paintings and paper-cuts to prints, features heavily throughout the house. The hallway door has one of her designs made in stained glass by Caryl Hallett, while the dining room is home to her impressive Tour de France paper-cut map, made to celebrate Yorkshire playing host to Le Grand Départ.
She taught herself to paper cut six years ago and discovered that she was a natural thanks to excellent hand eye co-ordination. The Tour de France route map took her six months to make after extensive research.
“I drove the route and stayed overnight at places along the way so I could learn more about their history and include extra little details, including the goose that lives at the Forbidden Corner in Wensleydale,” says Anita, who also sells maps of York, Harrogate and Ilkley.
Before becoming a full-time artist at the age of 28, she was a buyer working for top brands, including Liberty, and she ran the first ever LK Bennett shop.
She and Pete moved from London to her native Yorkshire 14 years ago and she is now based at the Dove Tree art studio and gallery in Harrogate town centre, where she works, exhibits and holds classes.
The interiors are very like those in her end terraced cottage, which is in a nearby village.
It had been modernised by a developer but she has since made many changes, starting with the front door, which was moved and a hallway was created where the utility room used to be.
What was a galley kitchen has been extended to make a large kitchen/dining area with the old chimney breast acting as a room divider.
The turquoise handmade units were designed by Anita and the stained-glass stars in the dresser are by Caryl Hallett. Determined not to have a wood or granite worktop, she managed to find a white one embedded with coloured glass chips.
On the lower ground floor, the basement was converted into a “den” for Pete and their son Hector, 14, and outside, there is a new summer house and a decked terrace.
Anita spends a lot of time outdoors, where she often paints with twigs and stones, along with traditional brushes. The cherry trees in painting of The Stray were done with a twig.
“It just felt natural to do that and I’ve developed a technique that creates a mark making effect,” she says.
Even when she is indoors she rarely rests, which means sleep comes easily along with some of her best ideas.
“Often ideas come to me at midnight as I am about to drift into sleep. It’s strange but inspired means “in spirit’ and I do believe there is something else influencing us,” she says.
“I am artist in residence at Hazelwood Castle and I was painting a picture of the Madonna in the garden there. I’d never done faces before but the most amazing face came to mind and it almost felt as though someone else was helping me.”
* Anita Bowerman, Dove Tree studio, gallery and classes, Back Granville Road, Harrogate, anitabowerman.co.uk
Lakeland eco-friendly paints, lakelandpaints.co.uk
B Spoke Upholstery, Harrogate, tel: 07930 373146
Caryl Hallett, carylhallettstainedglass.co.uk
Anthropologie, Victoria Quarter, Leeds, Anthropologie.com
Crimple Hall, Harrogate, antiques and vintage, crimplehall.co.uk
Space vintage store, Harrogate, spaceharrogate.co.uk
PM Dickson timber, summerhouse, pmdtimber.co.uk
Clare Slater flowers, claireslaterflowers.co.uk
Jim Lawrence door furniture, jim-lawrence.co.uk
Elni Interiors, Harrogate, elni.co.uk