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An Introduction to Wilhelmina Barns-Graham by Virginia Button

A specially recorded version of the introduction to Wilhelmina Barns-Graham by Virginia Button originally presented as part of the event 'Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: Virginia Button and Selina Skipwith in conversation' held by the Trust on 1 February 2021 via Zoom.

Virginia Button's recent book on Barns-Graham and aspects of her life and work can be purchased from the Trust's online shop for £15 plus P&P.

Barns-Graham: Decade by Decade

Decade by Decade is a series of short films of personal responses to artworks by 20th century Scottish and St Ives Artist, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912-2004) from each decade of her artistic production.

2000s | Ann Gunn on Earth Series III, 2002

Ann Gunn, is Honorary Senior Lecturer at St Andrews University having recently retired as Director of Museum and Gallery Studies. In 2007 she published the definitive Prints of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, a complete catalogue. Her most recent publication is The Prints of Paul Sandby (1731-1809): A Catalogue Raisonné (2015). Ann has chosen to talk about the Barns-Graham screenprint Earth Series III from 2002.

1990s | Guy Peploe on Untitled [Black Sun], 1997

Guy Peploe is Director at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh, grandson of the Scottish Colourist S.J. Peploe, his father Denis was also an accomplished artist, and a close-friend of Barns-Graham when they studied together at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1930s. He worked closely with Barns-Graham on a number of exhibitions at the Scottish Gallery in the last decade of her life, he has chosen a Barns-Graham painting Untitled [Black Sun], 1997. 

1980s | Helen Scott on Two Island Series No. 2 (Orkney), 1987

Dr Helen Scott is Curator of Fine Art at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. She has a close association with the work of Barns-Graham having previously worked as Manager of the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust when it was based at the artist’s former home of Balmungo, near St Andrews. She is author of the monographs 'Edwin G. Lucas: An Individual Eye' (2018) and 'Mary Cameron: Life in Paint' (2019) and has chosen to talk about Two Island Series No. 2, 1987.

1970s | Rob Airey on Warm Up, Cool Down, 1979

Rob Airey is the Director of the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust. His career taken him from the Government Art Collection to the Tate, Henry Moore Foundation, Public Catalogue Foundation, Royal Cornwall Museum and finally Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery, before being appointed to the Trust in 2017. Rob has chosen to talk about Barns-Graham’s 1979 painting Warm Up, Cool Down.

1950s | Siobhan McLaughlin on Study for Large Shelf I, 1951

Siobhan McLaughlin (b.1994), graduated in 2019 with First Class MA (Hons) in Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art. Based in Glasgow in December 2019, she was the first recipient of the Society of Scottish Artists’ Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Award, for her work Untitled (Lochnagar III), presented at the VAS/SSA exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts. She is the curator of an anniversary exhibition of Alan Davie's work ‘Beginning of a far-off World’ to be held at Dovecot Studios from 22 January to 6 March 2021 (currently postponed). Siobhan has chosen Study for Large Shelf I, 1951.

1940s | Alice Strang on Studio Interior (Red Stool), 1945

Alice Strang is a Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland. She curated the landmark exhibition Modern Scottish Women: Painters and Sculptors 1885-1965, which was held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. She read History of Art at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge before joining Christie's, where she worked as a Specialist in the Impressionist and Modern, Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Art departments. She joined the National Galleries of Scotland in 1999 and is a curator of the nation's collection of Western art from c.1890 to the present day. Alice has selected Studio Interior (Red Stool), 1945.

1930s | Rebecca Birrell on Edinburgh Interior, 1937

Rebecca Birrell studied English Literature at UCL, then Women’s Studies at The University of Oxford. She has undertaken curatorial posts at the Jewish Museum London, the Department of Prints and Drawing at the British Museum and the Charleston Trust. She is currently completing her PhD at Edinburgh College of Art and working on the photographic archive at the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust. Her first non-fiction book, This Dark Country, a blend of collective biography and art criticism which looks at 20th Century women artists, intimacy and still-life, will be published by Bloomsbury in August 2021. Rebecca has selected Edinburgh Interior from 1937.

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham At Waterhouse & Dodd June 2017

In early 2017 the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust entered a new relationship with the London and New York art gallery Waterhouse & Dodd. In June of that year the London gallery held its first full exhibition of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s paintings, extending from an early gouache of the Minack Cliff Theatre, Porthcurno from 1940 through to the dynamic Scorpio paintings that define her last decade.

The exhibition was very well received and the gallery was able to attract the attention of overseas collectors, particularly from the USA. Having successfully shown Scorpio paintings at Art Wynwood, Miami in February as well as at the subsequent New York art fair it is clear that Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s paintings can reach beyond historic boundaries, to new, international audiences who are seeing her work for the first time and appreciating what they see. That this would be the case has never been in doubt and it is exciting to have the means now to take her work out into the wider world. This is just the start.

The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust would like to thank Waterhouse & Dodd for permission to film in their gallery, and particularly to Jamie Anderson for his introduction.

A Different Way of Working – the Prints of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Wilhelmina (Willie) Barns-Graham made prints throughout her long career, though it was not until the last decade of her life that printmaking became an integral part of her practice.  This exhibition, curated by Ann Gunn of St Andrew University, takes an overview of her life in print.

During her early years in St Ives Willie made monotypes and linocuts, and took etching lessons at Penzance School of Art. Later on, working with a number of printmakers, she made lithographs, colour etchings and screenprints. There was always a clear relationship between the prints and her painting in terms of themes, imagery, and technique. One print technique would suit one theme; a different technique would suit another. By studying the prints and their changing subjects and styles, it is possible to follow the development of her art.  As her paintings became increasingly non-representational, so did her prints.

This film was made while the exhibition was installed at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Bideford, North Devon in between 25 March and 14 May, 2017.

Ann Gunn is the author of The prints of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham -  a complete catalogue, published by Lund Humphries, 2007.

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: In her own words 1940-1947

A talk presented by Janet Axten MA at the St Ives Arts Club as part of the St Ives Festival 2016, supported by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust and St Ives Archive.

Using diaries and letters belonging to Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Janet Axten’s talk focussed on the artist’s very first years in St Ives after arriving there in March 1940. It did not take long for Willie, as she was known, to meet people and become a part of an active social group that centred around the Stokes, Nicholsons and Gabos. However it was not all plain sailing and there were moments when Willie questioned why she had come to this remote part of the country. Despite these feelings she persevered and went on to live there for the rest of her life. This illuminating talk brings to life part of the history of St Ives in the early 1940s looking at the people rather than the art, using photographs from St Ives archive. Digital copies of the diaries and Willie’s correspondence from the 1940s were deposited with St Ives Archive by the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust (aka The Barns-Graham Charitable Trust) in August 2016.

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: A Scottish artist in St Ives

In 2012 the exhibition Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: a Scottish artist in St Ives was commissioned to celebrate Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s centenary. Born in St Andrews, Fife, in 1912 Barns-Graham’s attended Edinburgh College of Art in the 1930s. The focus of the show is the significance of her Scottish background and artistic heritage, and how that contributed to the development of her art. Barns-Graham first arrived in St Ives in March 1940 as fully trained artist, carrying her Scottish legacy with her. It remained central to her work until she died in January 2004.

Looking in Looking out

A Film on Wilhelmina Barns-Graham by Tim Fitzpatrick 2012. This project, over a year in the making, saw Tim working closely with the Barns-Graham Chartable Trust's collections and archive

Burton Art Gallery - A Discipline of the Mind

The opening of the Wilhemina Barns-Graham exhibition at the Burton Art Gallery - Bideford - "A Discipline of the Mind". This film is the introduction to the exhibition by Geoffrey Bertram, chairman of the Barns-Graham Charitable Trust.

WBG on BBC Primetime 1993

First broadcast on Wednesday 17th February 1993

Director: Jane Stimpson

This is an extract taken from the BBC Primetime News programme that was marking the opening of Tate St Ives. The clip contains an interview with Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and shows her at work in her St Ives studio.