A Distant Isle: Wilhelmina Barns-Graham in Lanzarote

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham
La Geria (Vineyard) 1989
acrylic on paper
56.5 x 75.5 cm


A Distant Isle: Wilhelmina Barns-Graham in Lanzarote - Art Exhibition

Marking 30th anniversary of artist’s first visit there

10 – 29 June 2019    Belgrave St Ives


Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s Lanzarote series is a remarkable and significant body of work from the latter part of the artist’s career, the extent of which is still to be fully assessed. This is the first exhibition to look solely at the artist’s response to the unique topography and geology of this volcanic island, which marks the 30th anniversary of her first visit there in February 1989.  Barns-Graham then returned to Lanzarote annually over a 5-year period (1989 – 93) to work in this formidable landscape. The resultant paintings and drawings demonstrate the artist’s interest in natural structures and her deep-rooted analytical and observational skills.


When Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, known as Willie, moved to Cornwall in 1940, the artist’s drawings and paintings started to reflect the patterns, natural and man-made, of place, be it of Cornwall, the Scilly Isles, Switzerland’s Grindelwald Glacier (1949), the quarries and ravines of Tuscany and Sicily (1953-1955) or the rocky edge of the Balearics (1958). Her studies of Lanzarote are some of the finest examples of this geological investigation. 


Lanzarote is an extraordinary place. The island is dominated by evidence of substantial volcanic activity, the last eruptions being very recent in geological terms. Well-documented eruptions took place in the Timanfaya area between 1730 and 1736, when lava and ash covered around two-thirds of the island burying many villages and fertile agricultural land in the process. It is thought that over thirty volcanoes erupted at this time. A century later, in 1824, there was a further eruption in the same area.


Willie travelled widely throughout the island, stopping by the wayside to make her drawings from first-hand observation, and although the forms and structure of this rough terrain stay specifically within this body of work, the colours of the landscape (principally black, red, ochre, green) continued to inspire later paintings.


A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Geoffrey Bertram is available.



Notes to Editors:


Photograph captions:                  

Timanfaya Mt. Fuego 1989  Acrylic on paper; 36 x 49.5 cms  £7,000

La Geria (Vineyard) 1989  Acrylic on paper; 56.5 x 75.5 cms  £10,000

Lava Movement, Lanzarote 1993  Pencil & wash on paper; 21 x 29 cms  £4,000


Belgrave St Ives, 22 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1HE

Exhibition Dates: 10 – 29 June 2019              Private View: 8 June 6 – 8pm


info@belgravestives.co.uk        tel.  01736 794888                                                #adistantisle    @belgravestives


Belgrave St Ives represents Wilhelmina Barns-Graham on behalf of the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust.


The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust was established by the St Andrews artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham CBE HRSA HRSW (1912-2004) in 1987. The Trust exists to enhance the reputation and understanding of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham as one of Britain’s most significant 20th century artists and through her legacy, supports young people and other individuals to fulfil their potential in the visual arts.


Wilhelmina Barns-Graham was born and died in St Andrews. She is highly regarded for her contribution to modern British painting as a prominent member of the St Ives School of art, having moved to Cornwall in 1940. She inherited her St Andrews home, Balmungo House, in 1960 after which she divided her time equally between St Ives and St Andrews.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barnsgrahamtrust

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/barnsgrahamtrust

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/wbarnsgraham/     

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WBGTrust1


For more information about the artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust, please contact:


Rossanne Lee-Bertram   01823 413 388 // 07885 422 323

E:  rossanne@the4phases.com



Wilhelmina Barns-Graham
Timanfaya Mt Fuego 1989
acrylic on paper
35.8 x 49.6 cm
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham
[Untitled - Lava Movement Lanzarote] 1993
pencil and wash on paper
21 x 29 cm

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