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Wilhelmina BARNS-GRAHAM 1912 - 2004

Biography

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912-2004) was one of the foremost Scottish painters working in St Ives after moving there in 1940. Her work, alongside that of her contemporaries comprising the St Ives School, contributed greatly to the development of modernist British painting in the mid to late twentieth century.She developed a remarkable eye for colour, her works in print show her remarkable versatility as an artist and her love, in tandem with her appreciation & understanding, of colour.

Born St Andrews, Barnes-Graham studied at the Edinburgh College of Art from 1932-7 and rented a studio in Edinburgh between 1936 and 1940.

In 1940 she went to St Ives, on the suggestion of the Principal of the ECA, who thought that her unique abstract work would benefit from the influence of artists working in St Ives, Cornwall. This proved to be an important move. She became friendly with Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo and was invited to join both the Newlyn Society of Artists and the St Ives Society of Artists in 1942.

In 1948 she visited Switzerland and glaciers became the subject of many of her paintings.

In 1949 she founded the Penwith Society of Arts. She started working on painted abstract reliefs. Other inspirations included the movement of waves and, ultimately, Orkney.

Barns-Graham taught at Leeds School of Art 1956-7 and had a studio in London 1961-3.

She died where she was born, St Andrews, on 26 January 2004