Art, creative thinking and graphics have been my life since age fifteen when I was given a bursary to Art School in 1952 – it changed my life, my thinking, my skills and especially my eye-hand coordination. Art has since never been an amusement pastime or hobby for me. It has been my living – my life. A social realist painter and thinker – Douglas remains true to his heritage.
‘Our Village’ Attenborough’s fields, Haydon Dell, the Churchyard graves of Dr Munro, Thomas Hearne and Henry Edridge ARA and the remains of Herkomer’s castle ‘Lululaund’ were the wartime playgrounds of Douglas Chowns. Studios still existed in friends’ gardens or were abandoned, dilapidated shells open to the sky. Lucie Kemp-Welch was painting in a black straw hat and smelt of turpentine and lavender water. The late Mary Bromet and her work were still much in conversation. The Bohemians – the Artists – had created the aura and myth into which Douglas was born in Bushey in 1937. A. E. Matthews was a familiar figure about the village as were Canadians Frank and Cyril Church who later talked film and Bushey Studios when Douglas was in his teens at Art School in Watford. From an early age, Douglas was fascinated by illustrations in his mother’s Orange Fairy Book edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by Henry Justice Ford, from whom he learned to understand drawing in line. Douglas is also an accomplished watercolourist, painting land and seascapes that often facilitate his lifestyfe. He was the University of Otago commissioned painter and was Patron to the Northland Polytechnic Art Gallery at Geoff Wilsons request before Geoff tragically died. Douglas was Senior Art Tutor and initiator of the Art School which now lists over 150 full time students. As co-founder of the New Zealand Gaidhealtachd annual Celtic Summer School, his childhood legacy in the shadow of the Royal Caledonian Schools, piping, dancing and drumming with Pipe Major Charles Turnbull around and about Bushey and Watford, the West Herts Scottish Society and the London Scottish Regiment, the Thistle Club dances in Oxhey church halls, have all surfaced in McKenzie Bay, a New Zealand centre where Scots, Irish, Welsh and Cornish meet on a regular annual festival. Touring New Zealand Universities and Polytechnics with London Art Historian and author Edward Lucie-Smith, an old friend and colleague, resulted in a new body of work comprising this ‘Enduring of Suffering’ series.