Wilhelmina Barns-Graham British, 1912-2004


Wilhelmina Barns-Graham CBE (8 June 1912 – 26 January 2004) was one of the foremost British abstract artists, a member of the influential Penwith Society of Arts.



1912 Born in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.

1932-37 Attended Edinburgh College of Art (tutored by William Gillies and David Foggie).
1940 Awarded an Andrew Grant post-graduate Travelling Scholarship and worked in St Ives, Cornwall which with St Andrews remained her base.
1942 Became a member of Newlyn Society of Artists where she showed annually until 1949.
1942-49 Exhibited annually at the St Ives Society of Artists.
1948 First visited Switzerland.
1949 Founder-member of the Penwith Society. Met and became friends with Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Garbo having already met Margaret Mellis in Edinburgh.
1952 Attended Penzance School of Art to learn etching and engraving.
1955-56 Took up an Italian Government Travelling Scholarship.
1956-57 Taught at Leeds School of Art.
1961-63 Worked at her studio in London before returning to St Ives.
1984-85 Worked in Orkney.
1989-89 Worked in Lanzarote.
1992 Honorary Doctorate, University of St Andrews.
1993 Tate St Ives - Work in changing collection display and throughout following years.
2001 Awarded CBE for Services to Art.


Selected Solo Exhibitions

1947, 49 Downings Bookshop, St Ives.
1956 The Scottish Gallery: ‘Drawings from Sicily, Italy and S. W. Cornwall’.
1957 City Art Gallery, Wakefield ‘Modern Art in Yorkshire’.
1960 The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh ‘Recent Gouaches & Spanish Drawings’.
1981 The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.
         LYC Museum & Art Gallery, Cumbria.
1984 The Pier Arts Centre, Orkney.
1988 Ancrum Gallery, Roxburghshire.
1992-93 William Jackson Gallery - exhibition toured to: Milngavie, Kendall, Exeter, Dundee and Wakefield.
1996 The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh.
1996-97 The Sottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
1999-2000 Tate Gallery St Ives ‘Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: An Enduring Image’.
2002-04 ‘W. Barns-Graham: Painting as a celebration’ toured by the Crawford Arts Centre, St Andrews to: Aberdeen, Truro, Sheffield, York, Lancaster, Kingston upon Hull, Milngavie, and Hawick.


Selected Group Exhibitions

1941, 1944 Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh.
1942-49 Newlyn Society of Artists.
             St Ives Society of Artists.
             Penwith Society of Arts, St Ives.
1958, 1960 Waddington Galleries, London.
1959 The John Moores Liverpool Exhibition.
1960 City Art Gallery, Plymouth ‘Painters from Cornwall’.
         Arts Council touring ‘Penwith Society of Arts 10th Anniversary Exhibition’.
1962 Arnolfini, Bristol ‘West Penwith Painters & Sculptors’.
1981-83 Scottish Arts Council touring ‘Contemporary Art from Scotland’.
1985 Tate Gallery, London ‘St Ives 1939-64’.
From 1986 Regular exhibitor at Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh.
1987-89 South Bank Centre - Arts Council touring ‘The Experience of Landscape: paintings, drawings and photographs from the Arts Council of Great Britain Collection’.
1998-2004 Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
                 Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, Edinburgh.