painter, sculptor, illustrator and commercial artist, was born in Sydney on 22 April 1908, daughter of William Cowdroy. After a few years at Eden on the south coast of NSW, the family settled in Sydney. Vic attended Fort Street High School until she was thirteen and became ill with scarlet fever. After she recovered, she left school and began studying art at East Sydney Technical College. At the end of 1925, aged seventeen, she was in her fourth year as a sculpture student and Rayner Hoff was calling her his 'star pupil’. Although primarily devoted to sculpture (portrait heads and small nude figures), Vic also did story illustrations; Hoff predicted that in both fields she might some day rival Norman Lindsay , an artist whom she was said to admire profoundly. Yet even then, despite a common interest in drawing and modelling nudes, Vic’s work showed little direct Lindsay influence, being far more 'moderne’ and stylised.
In 1925 Cowdroy was drawing cartoons for Aussie – including a self portrait. That year she made plaster panel decorations for the Black and White Artists’ Ball, the bohemian event in the Sydney social calendar, said to be 'weirdly original in design, displaying her virile imagination, her innate sense of composition and her skilful modelling’. In 1926 she designed the poster for the Artists’ Ball (National Art School collection). Her graduate sculpture, Figure from Life , was illustrated in Art in Australia in March 1927.
Cowdroy also drew cartoons for the Bulletin in the 1920s, eg 'Violinist: “I want an E string please”/ Sadie: “Oh sir, if you don’t mind, would you pick it out for yourself, sir? I 'ardly know the 'es from the shes!”’ 11 June 1925 (original Mitchell Library [ML] Px*D457/91, address Miss V. Cowdroy, 119 Anzac Parade, Kensington); and (two smoking flappers) 'Musical Intelligence./ Mrs Nurich: “We dined the Baron last night.”/ Mrs Hibrow: “You don’t say! Did he bring his coronet?”/ Mrs Nurich: “Oh, I didn’t even know that he could play one!” 12 December 1925, 25 (original ML Px*D457/92, same address).
She continued to sign her work 'Vic Cowdroy’ after August 1926 when she married George Bunting (the subject of one of her earliest sculptures, a plaster head done when she was fifteen). They had a daughter, Diane, who became a fashion artist. Now illustration was Vic’s major interest. As 'Cowdroy’ she did lots of work for the Home (1928-31/ or 1934?), including a drawing for a Myra Morris story, 'The Dark River’ (2 January 1928, 18-19), depicting the difficult sentence: 'Bernadette’s mind was a dark, running river, swirling about him, seeking to carry him off his feet’. Her Home cartoons include The national dinner beverage , showing 'The Dinkum Australian abroad who, having exhausted his quota of serious drinking for the day, asks for a modest cupper tea’ (1 July 1931, 36), and The Big Australian Beach Parade (see Heritage ).
She produced drawings, including covers, for Wireless Weekly and drew a nonsense image for Ink no 1 (1933), 47 – the only issue published – 'Mr Johnson (from the Bank)/ “I come from the moon, my name’s Augustus, and you’re my little ray of moonshine”.’ For several years she did fashion features for David Jones and Farmers department stores, some published in Home . She illustrated three books of poems by her friend Ronald McCuaig with fine, witty line drawings: Vaudeville (1938), The Wanton Goldfish (1941) and Quod (1946). She also painted portraits. Her subjects include the English author and poet Peter Hopegood (private collection).
From January 1938 Cowdroy contributed numerous joke cartoons and elegant line and watercolour drawings to Man , Man Junior , Cavalcade and other semi-salacious, 'all-male’ K.G. Murray publications under the pseudonym 'Royston’. Her first cartoon in Man (January 1938) shows a predatory young woman addressing a meek employee at 'Car Registration’: “I’d like to know who owns car BW88”. Other examples are (women golfers in a bar) “Oh you declined! For the moment I thought you said reclined” August 1938, 35; (old woman to young woman going out) '“Be a good girl and have a good time.”/“Make up your mind mother”’ November 1938; (young woman to customs officer checking her luggage) “Oh, don’t worry with that one. It’s only some marihuana I’m smuggling in” December 1938; (woman with knickers round her ankles but hat intact) “Huh! I thought you said this stuff would knock your hat off” January 1939, 37; (barman to two demure-looking young women) “and remember, no risque stories, there are gentlemen present” May 1939. Also one of c.March 1940, 96.
In the 1940s Cowdroy shared a Sydney studio with cartoonists George Aria , “Carl” (Hottie) Lahm and Arthur Horner . In 1946, after George Bunting died, she sailed for England with their daughter. Two years later, in London, she married Arthur Horner, who had come over to work in Fleet Street. They had two daughters, Jane (a journalist) and Julia (a painter and illustrator). Vic stopped drawing while the children were young, but later took up animation. In a converted stable in Hertfordshire she produced forty-five minutes of animation virtually single-handed. In 1976 she returned to Melbourne with her husband. She died in Melbourne on 26 June 1994; Arthur Horner (best-known as the creator of Colonel Pewter in London Punch ) died in Melbourne in 1997.