Peter Howson OBE

Peter Howson OBE - Artist Profile

Peter Howson OBE

Peter Howson was born in London of Scottish parents and moved with his family to Prestwick, Ayrshire when he was four. He was raised in a religious family and the first ever painting he did was a Crucifixion, when he was 6 years old.

His work has encompassed a number of themes. His early works are typified by very masculine working class men, most famously in The Heroic Dosser (1987). Later he was commissioned by the Imperial WarMuseum of London, to be the official war artist for the Bosnian/Hercegovina under Serbian and Croatian aggression in 1993. Here he produced some of his most shocking and controversial work detailing the atrocities which were taking place at the time, like Plum Grove (1994). One painting in particular, Croatian and Muslim, detailing a rape created controversy partly because of its explicit subject matter but also because Howson had painted it from the victims' accounts. He was the official war painter at the Kosovo War for the London Times

In more recent years his work has exhibited strong religious themes which some say is linked to the treatment of his alcoholism and drug addiction  at the Castle Craig Hospital in Peebles in 2000, after which he converted to Christianity. An example of this is Judas (2002) which
" a key work from the series of paintings conveying the artist's decline into and recovery from alcohol and drug addiction and his new found faith in Christianity."

His work has appeared in other media, with his widest exposure arguably for a British postage stamp he did in 1998 to celebrate engineering achievements for the Millenium. In addition his work has been used on album covers byLive (throwing Copper), The Beautiful South (Quench) and Jackie Leven (Fairytales for Hardmen). His work is exhibited in many major collections.

Howson was appointed Officer Of The Order Of The BritishEmpire (OBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours. In November 2010, BBC Scotland aired a documentary named "The Madness of Peter Howson" which followed the final stages of the completion of a grand commission for show in the renovated St Andrew's Cathedral and also dealt with Howson's struggle with mental illness and Asperger's Syndrome

In September 2014, Howson suggested he would hand back his OBE, predominantly because of his dislike of British foreign policy but it is not clear if he ever did so

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