Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, CBE, studied at Edinburgh College of Art maintaining a studio in Edinburgh (1936-1940) before moving to St Ives, Cornwall in 1940. From this moment on, Barns-Graham became an active part of the brilliant, experimental, increasingly European-connected group of artists that clustered in St Ives in the 1940s and 1950s who explored new abstract forms in paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculpture. St Ives remained a primary residence for the artist throughout her life, although from 1960 this
was balanced by time spent in St Andrews (she inherited a house there in 1960), and her native Scotland remained an important site for both ideas and exhibitions. Her work can be found in most major UK public collections and she was the subject of major retrospectives at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (1996/1997) and Tate St Ives (1999/2000).

The artist saw drawing as ‘a discipline of the mind’ and through her regular drawing sessions explored the potential of close observation to develop her understanding of and affinity with nature. Images range from spare, precise topographies, such as St Andrews Looking West to works such as Vortex: condensed patterns of lines which seem to draw us into and make us part of the rhythms and energy of the natural world.

(Text by Amanda Game for Lines from Scotland exhibition)