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Humphrey Bowden originally trained as a research scientist at Cambridge, Leeds and Cornell universities, before a career designing and developing new products for companies. He left in 1990 to work for himself as a designer/maker, building on a lifelong passion for making objects with graceful sculptural shapes.
He loves designing and making fountains in organic shapes, particularly plant shapes, because they have such an affinity with water. He is particularly interested in using light delicate forms, which can be achieved with strong malleable metals, particularly copper. The copper is cut, annealed, beaten to shape by hand and brazed together. The warm oxide colour, formed by heating, weathers over time to an attractive greeny/grey patina.
The guiding principle is to allow the water to follow the shape of the plant, moving from leaf to leaf or along stems and falling into itself to make gentle sounds. Interesting effects can also be seen from turbulent water rushing over ribbed surfaces, or gently swirling flat pools. He has worked with other organic shapes (including snake and shell forms), as well as some abstract designs.
He makes each fountain individually for the client. They are mainly commissioned for private gardens in the UK, Europe and the US. Public commissions include a Lotus fountain for the great Hindu temple at Neasden, a Farfugium fountain for the Botanic Gardens in Singapore, a snake fountain for GlaxoSmithKline, a Bamboo fountain for the British Embassy in the Ivory Coast and fountains for two hospices in the UK. A number of fountains have been exhibited annually at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.