Abstract, Issue 2

Welcome to Abstract the quarterly WBG Trust newsletter. This summer sees the WBG Trust busier than ever with exciting projects and exhibitions across the country. See below for the full story.

Composition (Sea), 1954, Oil on canvas, BGT6407

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: Sea, Rock, Earth and Ice at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

Willie always felt a strong affinity to nature and elements within it from an early age. She saw being out in the landscape, be it in Scotland, Cornwall or when travelling abroad, as a way of finding shapes and forms which she could assimilate into her practice. Curated by the Jerwood Collection’s Lara Wardle, the show at the Jerwood Gallery, HastingsWilhelmina Barns-Graham: Sea, Rock, Earth and Ice

(13 June – 7 October) takes this broad theme as its focus. (http://www.jerwoodgallery.org/whatson/64/sea-rock-earth-and-ice)

The exhibition’s starting point was to create a wider context for a work from the Jerwood permanent collection, Winter Landscape, 1952. This is an important transitionary work between Willie’s important ‘Glacier’ series of works begun in 1949 and a later group from the early 1950s which looked more at the structure of cliff and rock features in Cornwall. The exhibition features pieces from this period as well as later works from for example, Willie’s trips to Lanzarote made between 1989-93. An expanded version of the exhibition will open at the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield in December.


Summer Painting No. 2, 1985, Oil on canvas, BGT463

The Art of Collecting at the Mall Galleries, London SW1

The Art of Collecting (27 June – 6 July), curated by our own Selina Skipwith, celebrates the rich and diverse collections of a group of art and artists’ trusts and foundations – the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust, Fleming Collection, Jerwood Collection and Ingram Collection – and tells the history of their creation and how they all work individually and collaboratively today. The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust is unique in this setting, being primarily a single artist collection bequeathed to the Trust, upon her death on 26 January 2004. The Barns-Graham display opening at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings on 13 June is one such collaboration that the Trust is involved in.

Each of these organisations has a strong educational focus with an aim to enhance the understanding and enjoyment of 20th and 21st century British art. The exhibition also shines a spotlight on key works by female artists and showcases a range of the contemporary artist awards and bursaries each organisation runs. For the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust this means providing financial assistance to students of art and art history at selected art colleges and universities, as well as supporting artist residencies.


Volcanic Island, Lanzarote, near La Geria No.2, 1989 (BGT 976) © Wilhelmina Barns Graham-Trust

Volcanic Island, Lanzarote, near La Geria No.2, 1989, Acrylic on paper, BGT 976

Launch of Inspirational Journeys at TEG Marketplace

One of the ways the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust increases access to and knowledge of Willie’s work is through making available touring exhibitions that can be hired by any public gallery or museum in the UK. Those currently available include A Scottish Artist in St Ives and an exhibition focused on printmaking – A Different Way of Working. The Trust recently attended the Travelling Exhibition Group’s annual Marketplace in Bristol to launch a new touring show called Inspirational Journeys.

During her long career as an artist Willie made regular trips abroad, often these journeys were largely intended as holidays, however as was the case throughout her life, she continued to produce new work on a daily basis. These trips to, for example, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Lanzarote and Orkney, which all feature in Inspirational Journeys, often had a significant impact on her wider practice leading to new perspectives, themes and stylistic changes.

Willie’s first significant visit to Europe was in 1937 while still studying at Edinburgh College of Art. This trip to the south of France was funded by the College and it remains one the charitable remits of the Trust today to issue bursaries to art students, in order that they too might benefit from inspirational international travel as Willie experienced.

WBG in her Balmungo Studio. 1992. Photo: Laura Graham

WBG in her Balmungo Studio. 1992. Photo: Laura Graham

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust Annual Lecture

Michael Bird presents The Kitchen Sink Too: Voices from Artists’ Lives at the Mall Galleries, London SW1 on Wednesday 27 June at 6.30pm (doors open at 6.00pm). The talk is based on a new book he has been researching through the British Library’s sound archive Artists’ Lives which consists of recordings of interviews with British artists. The lecture focuses on Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s tapes, around which he will introduce extracts of conversations with her friends and peers. Tickets are available on the Mall Galleries website (https://www.mallgalleries.org.uk/whats-on/events/studio-voices-wilhelmina-barns-graham-contemporaries).

Michael is the author of ‘The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Place and Time’ and we are delighted that he will give this year’s annual lecture. Not to be missed!


Porthmeor Studios from the beach. Image credit: BSJW Trust.

Porthmeor Studios from the beach. Image credit: BSJW Trust.

Trust supports arts students in St Ives & Scotland this summer

Time, Trace, Place, at Porthmeor Studios & Cellars  2-15 June
The Trust is also one of the sponsors of education workshops for a range of university, college and secondary school students across the area in support of this collaborative, site and place-specific performative installation residency at the Studios, which brings together musicians, composers, visual and sound artists.

Porthmeor Studios Residency
The Trust is currently supporting a three-year programme of residencies for emerging artists at Porthmeor Studios, St Ives. The Trust welcomed the latest recipient, Berliner Amelie Grözinger, who moved into Studio 9 in May. This annual three-month residency provides thinking and breathing space for artists to encourage complete experimentation, by lifting the pressure on the artist to show work at the end. Scottish artist Katie Schwab was the first artist to benefit from the residency.

The St Ives School of Painting Art Summer Camp 6-10 August
The second art summer camp for teenagers aged 13-18 returns 6-10 August.  Students will have five days to paint, draw and make ceramics led by a practicing artist at Porthmeor Studios.  The Trust subsidises the camp along with Arts Council England and St Ives Rotary.

Shipei Wang - Blemmeyes In a Japanese Dream, 2018 (Moving-image projection on painting - acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20cm).  © The artist.

Shipei Wang - Blemmeyes In a Japanese Dream, 2018 (Moving-image projection on painting - acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20cm).  © The artist.

Royal Scottish Academy awards Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Travel Award 2018 to Shipei Wang​

Willie’s Trust supports a Travel Award through the Royal Scottish Academy:
The 2018 recipient is Shipei Wang, who is soon to graduate with a MA (Hons) Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art.  He proposes to generate a body of work that explores the practices of traditional medicine within villages of the Dai Automomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna, China.

Summer School at Cambo House, Fife 

In collaboration with Fife Contemporary, the Trust will be sponsoring along with the Cookie Matheson Charitable Trust, its annual Art & Design Summer School held over three days at Cambo House in July. For senior Fife school pupils who intend to go to art college, the School provides a great opportunity for them to get a taster of what they are likely to expect.

Firth of Forth Series No.13, 1996 (BGT 507)  © Wilhelmina Barns Graham-Trust

Firth of Forth Series No.13, 1996, Acrylic on paper, BGT 507

Picture of the Month

For this edition, Trust Chairman Geoffrey Bertram picks Firth of Forth Series No.13, 1996 (acrylic on paper, 57.8 x 76.5cm). This series was inspired by Willie taking the train from St Andrews to Edinburgh which crosses over the Firth of Forth via the famous Forth Rail Bridge. Through the train window the cylindrical forms of the bridge flash past, offering glimpses of distances over the river beyond. An impression of this experience is provided by the angularity of the darkened ‘girders’ that contrast the light spaces beyond. The vibrancy of colour, brush marks and splatters combine to make a dynamic, eye catching image.

Untitled I (View of St Ives), 1943. The Ingram Collection © Wilhelmina Barns Graham-Trust

Untitled I (View of St Ives), 1943. The Ingram Collection © Wilhelmina Barns Graham-Trust

Where to see Willie

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: Sea, Rock, Earth and Ice at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings (14 June – 7 October) is now open, see article above for more information.
In London at the Mall Galleries (27 June – 6 July) The Art of Collecting includes a number of Barns-Grahams, see article above for more information. It has a short run so don’t miss out!

International Blues (8 – 24 June) is open at the new Fen Ditton Gallery, just outside Cambridge. Bringing together art, craft and design on the theme of blue, three stunning Barns-Graham screenprints feature in the exhibition – not to be missed!

In St Ives the substantial group of Barns-Grahams on display at the Penwith Gallery, will remain until early September, before being changed in October. Currently the focus is on images of St Ives in the 1940s. Tate St Ives’ wonderful ongoing Modern Art and St Ives display also includes three important works by Willie, including Rock Theme, St Just, 1953, recently donated to the Tate Collection by the Trust. Also in Cornwall, at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro included in Hireth – A Cornish Landscape are View of St Ives, 1947 and Sea Forms, 1958.

At Pallant House, Chichester the fantastic group show organised by Tate St Ives Virginia Woolf – an Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings (26 May – 16 September) is open and again features four works by Willie, two lent by the Trust; Cliff, 1952 and Blue Stone El Golfo, 1989. The Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed includes Willie’s delightful Untitled I (View of St Ives), 1943 in Spirited – Women Artists from The Ingram Collection of Modern Art (26 May – 13 October) among works by artists such as Bridget Riley, Barbara Hepworth and Winifred Nicholson.

At Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, currently on show with the permanent collection in Modern One is Box Factory Fire, 1948. In London you can see the Tate’s renown Glacier Crystal, Grindelwald, 1950 at Tate Britain and finally at the newly refurbished Leeds Art Gallery you can see Willie’s Three Rocks, 1952 in their Rock, Pebble, Quarry display.

Looking Ahead
Two new exhibitions will open in September, look out for more details in the next edition of Abstracts. The first, at The Watermill, Aberfeldy opening on September 8 is Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: Rhythms in Colour. Late Paintings and Prints (until 27 January 2019), closely followed by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. The Late Prints (28 September – 17 November) at Gallagher & Turner in Newcastle upon Tyne.