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Noted British artist who became one of ‘Jalisco’s own’ dies

Penelope Downes, the British-born artist recognized for her contribution to the Jalisco art world over the past four decades, died this week after a short illness.

pg11Born December 19, 1945, in London, England, Downes spent the early years of her life in Kenya, where her parents worked for the British government, her father running an ambulant theater troupe and her mother attending to issues faced by local women.

Downes returned to England at age 10 to complete her education at a boarding school in the south of England, where she found the strict discipline hard to deal with in comparison to her much freer lifestyle in Africa. After her parents divorced, she thought about studying veterinary medicine, but her love of art won out, and, while still in her teens, she enrolled in the Central School of Art and Design in the British capital.

In 1967, Downes traveled to Barcelona, where she studied at the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi. Continuing her travels, she moved to Venice to assist in the restoration of books and art works damaged in the devastating floods of 1966.

Downes first set foot in Mexico in 1970, obtaining a scholarship to study at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Mexico City. Her subsequent travels took her to Central and South America, and then back to Africa, where she settled in Lusaka, Zambia, for several years. Working as an art teacher at the Zambia College of Architecture, Downes held her first solo exhibition in 1977.

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