Caroline Wiseman Modern & Contemporary
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham
1912 - 2004

Wind Dance Series no.4
22 x 29.9 in / 56 x 76 cm
Screenprint on Arches Paper

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Artist's Biography

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham was born in 1912 in St Andrews, Fife. After attending Edinburgh College of Art (1932 - 37) she went to St. Ives in 1940, quickly becoming part of the group which included Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. She was a founder member of the Penwith Society. She travelled regularly over the next 20 years - Switzerland, Italy, Paris, and Spain. With the exception of a short teaching term at Leeds School of Art (1956 - 57) and three years in London (1960 - 63) she has lived and worked in St Ives ever since, with regular stays in St Andrews where, in 1992, she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University. In 1999 she was elected an honorary member of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) and the Royal Scottish Watercolourists (RSW); she also received Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter and in 2001 she was awarded CBE.

Barns-Graham has exhibited consistently since the 1940s and the shows are too many to cite here but include her Retrospective exhibition (1989 - 90), W Barns-Graham at 80 (1992 - 93) - both toured to Museums around the UK- and the major survey exhibition held at the Tate St. Ives (1999). She has also had three highly acclaimed shows with Art First (1995, 1997, 1999). As part of the St Ives Group she has been in all the major survey exhibitions including the significant 1985 St Ives 1939 - 64, at the Tate Gallery, Millbank, London. In Nov 2001 Art First has a major exhibition of new work and coinciding with the show Lund Humphries are publishing a study of her life and work.

Barns-Graham is one of the foremost abstract artists in the UK and in her late 80s she is painting as well as ever. Her sense of colour is exceptional. She paints with great conviction and power, and still has the ability to surprise. Her images derive from acute observations of natural forms and places she has visited, pared to their bare essentials.

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham died in 2004.z