Ned Owens at the Mid-Day Studios.

About Ned Owens

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Born James Edward Owens in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1918 (not 1911 as cited in Peter Davies’s ‘A Northern School’), ‘Ned’ Owens attended his local art school in the 1930’s and attained a scholarship to study art at Durham. He then went on to teach part-time at the Manchester School of Art. With his first wife, Margo Ingham, he owned and launched the Mid-Day studios in autumn 1946: a ‘Salon des Refuses’ opposite the Manchester City Art Gallery, which soon became one of the most relevant and fertile exhibition spaces in the burgeoning Manchester art scene of the late 1940’s. The Mid-Day studios gave Lowry his first solo show outside London in 1948 and their impressive list of exhibitors included Theodore Major, Richard Weisbrod, Jose Christopherson, Lowry, Hal Yates, Ned Owens, Arthur Hilton and Ian Grant. Owens received high critical acclaim and gallerist Andras Kalman of The Crane Gallery, described Ned Owens and Theodore Major as ‘Manchester’s new star proteges.’

Sickert, Daumier and Rembrandt are cited as influences on Owens, who managed to engender a sense of pathos and sadness in his work: generally depicting the poor and materially or emotionally deprived. Owens came from an impoverished background and his social and personal insecurities and sense of isolation lead to intense and prolonged periods of depression. After his painful divorce from Margo Ingham in the 1950’s, Owens burnt all his work and ceased painting. He joined the ‘Manchester Guardian’ as an illustrator where he worked until his retirement in the 1970’s. He died in 1990 in Milnthorpe, Cumbria.

In our view he is the most under acknowledged Northern artist of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

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