Celia Ward, despite being the daughter of John Ward, initially had no intention of becoming an artist. At school her ambition was to be a botanist, but she was advised to give up botany because she had ‘no drawing ability at all’. She recalls that paradoxically ‘the Headmistress strongly recommended that if I stay at school I should take to art’, there being apparently no connection between art and drawing. Early doubts about her academic ability proved unfounded when she went up to University College, London. Whilst reading History, she found time to attend the Royal Academy Schools for a year as a Guest Student, and graduated in 1980.
Her work, delicate, gentle and imaginative, was immediately popular, and in 1981 she had a picture accepted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, which led to commissions for portraits of families, houses and gardens, and some book jackets for Collins. In 1985 she had a joint exhibition at the Maas Gallery with Jehan Daly, and one man shows with Maas in 1987, 1989 and 1994, and thereafter with Sally Hunter Fine Art, Brian Sinfield Gallery and Abbott and Holder. From 2002 she lived in Romania, where she exhibited with the British Council and the Romanian Cultural Institute, while also setting up an Art Centre in Bucharest. In 2005 she moved back to East London where she founded and ran a participatory textile project, East London Textile Arts. She continued to show her watercolours, often alongside textiles, at Prick Your Finger, Bethnal Green, The Art Workers Guild, and the Bookartbookshop in Shoreditch. She has work in the Ashmolean, the Faringdon Collection, the Luxembourg National Collection, with Balliol College and with the Prince of Wales.