Abstract, Issue 24

Welcome to our Winter newsletter bringing you news of current exhibitions and loans, stories of recent Trust activities and our usual updates:

  • Find Barns-Grahams on display in Edinburgh this Winter
  • Discover recent publications in our shop
  • Catch up on our Annual Lecture
  • Listen to more stories about Barns-Graham’s printmaking
  • Read Barns-Graham’s reminiscences about artist William Gillies
  • Welcome new Trustee, Siobhan McLaughlin
  • Consider joining our Patrons scheme
  • Make note of Where to See Willie
  • Enjoy our festive Picture of the Month
A colour photo of a blue rug on a gallery floor

Wind Dance No.5 rug on display at Dovecot Studios

WBG in Edinburgh this Winter

There are currently plenty of opportunities to see Barns-Graham on display in Edinburgh in a variety of group exhibitions. Time is running out see the excellent Scottish Women Artists: 250 Years of Challenging Perception at Dovecot Studios (until 6th January), featuring loans from the Fleming Collection and the WBG Trust’s rug version (made by Dovecot) of Barns-Graham’s Wind Dance No.5.

Complementing well the Dovecot exhibition, at the City Art Centre is Shifting Vistas: 250 Years of Scottish Landscape, a selection of artworks all drawn from their  permanent collection and including Alexander Nasmyth, John Lavery, SJ Peploe, William Gillies, Joan Eardley, Victoria Crowe, Frances Walker, Kate Downie and Barns-Graham’s iconic 1953 painting Rocks, St Mary’s, Scilly Isles, good news – it’s on until June 2024.  On Fri 2 February at 2pm, WBG Trust Director, Rob Airey will give a talk on Barns-Graham and landscape Book now for a free place.

The Printmaker’s Art | Rembrandt to Rego in the RSA galleries at the National Gallery of Scotland is an excellent introduction to 500 years of printmaking with a wide range of artists and styles. Barns-Graham’s bold November I screenprint features in the final room – until Sun 25 Feb 2024. Also, over at Modern One on Belford Road, in the brilliant collection re-display, you will find Barns-Graham’s Scorpio II.



Front and back cover design of End of the Glacier publication with black abstract line drawing on pale blue background

We are absolutely delighted to announce the publication of our first volume of poetry, with acclaimed poet Alyson Hallett. Invited by the WBG Trust to write poems in response to Barns-Graham’s glacier paintings for a forthcoming book (due late 2024, Lund Humphries) on the subject, after visiting the recent Paths to Abstraction exhibition at the Hatton Gallery, Alyson said: “…I perched on a foldaway chair in front of painting after painting. I forgot where I was. I forgot who I was. An energy emerged between the paintings and the page and words poured out of me.” Such was the extent of this focused bout of creativity that Alyson and the Trust decided to publish the wonderful poems as a dedicated new collection, End of the Glacier.

Alyson Hallett is a prize-winning poet with an extensive practice of collaboration with visual artists, composers, scientists and glassmakers.




Alongside End of the Glacier in the Books section of the shop you will also find two books devoted to the life and work of Barns-Graham – Lynne Green’s classic monograph A Studio Life (at a reduced price of £25) and Virginia Button’s wonderful introduction the artist. There is also catalogues of two the Trust’s recent touring exhibitions A Scottish Artist in St Ives and Inspirational Journeys (available at a reduced price if bought together) as well as a range of older catalogues from public and commercial gallery shows.



Two black and white photos of a man looking into a mirror and a women looking towards the camera next to a window

Catch up on our Annual Lecture | Friendship and painting as profession: Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Ben Nicholson

Thank you to all who attended our recent Annual Lecture at Glasgow Women’s Library. Dr Rachel Rose Smith’s talk gave a fresh perspective to the friendship and professional relationship between artists, Ben Nicholson and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, examining their common interests and inspiration but different approaches to painting.

For those who were not able to be there in person, we recorded the audio and have made this available with the slides. Please be aware, the audio is not the best quality due to unavoidable background noise on the day.


Watch Now



A colour photo of a man and two women seated in a living room drinking champagne

Robert Adam, Carol Robertson and Barns-Graham at Barnaloft, c.2000

For the second instalment of our Printmaking Oral Histories series, Archivist Tilly Heydon has selected some clips from interviews with Carol Robertson and Robert Adam of Graal Press that took place in Autumn 2022. Robertson and Adam worked with Barns-Graham from 1998 until her death in 2004 (and posthumously) to create a bold series of seventy screenprints and etchings.


Read More



A double page of a handwritten diary dated Mon 13th

Two life drawings from Barns-Graham's studies at Edinburgh College of Art, 1930s, BGT1771 and BGT2744

Life Drawing and Drawing on Life: Barns-Graham on William Gillies

Sir William Gillies, renowned tutor, and later Principal, of Edinburgh College of Art tutored Barns-Graham in life drawing during her period of study at the College from 1931-7. To coincide with the anniversary exhibition, William Gillies: Modernism and Nation, opening at the Royal Scottish Academy this month, we are taking a look at some of Barns-Graham’s recollections of the artist.


Read More



A colour photo of a woman in a blue jumpsuit standing in front of a painting and next to another painting on an easel

© India Stewart

New Trustee | Siobhan McLaughlin

We are delighted to announce that artist, Siobhan McLaughlin has joined the board of Trustees which has overall responsibility for the WBG Trust. Siobhan is an artist and freelance curator based in Glasgow. Her art practice combines personal experience of walking with sustainable devices, such as sewing remnant materials, to create non-traditional landscape paintings. Through drawing, printmaking, painting and installation she explores themes of place, memory, sustainability and ecology.

Recent exhibitions include Elemental, The Royal Scottish Academy Edinburgh (2023); Coast to Coast, 108 Fine Art Harrogate (2023); HERE Between you and the World, POP Griffiths Gallery Brisbane (2022); the Gilchrist-Fisher Award, Rebecca Hossack Gallery London (2022) and July Exhibition, Arusha Gallery Edinburgh (2019).

Alongside exhibiting regularly, McLaughlin’s curatorial practice focuses on creating opportunities for sharing and opening up private, inaccessible spaces to the public. In 2022 she curated a major private collections exhibition, Alan Davie: Beginning of a Far-off World, at Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, and more recently Scottish Landscapes: A New Generation, showcasing the work of 10 recent graduates from Scottish art schools.

Siobhan completed her MA Fine Art at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art in 2019. Since then she has been awarded the SSA Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Award, the Visual Art Scotland Cornwall Exchange Residency and the Stephen Palmer Travel Award.



Composition (Sea), 1954, oil on canvas, 45.5 x 76 cm, BGT6407

WBGT Patrons

The WBG Trust has a Patrons scheme in order to further our financial support for young artists, art historians and curators through residencies and targeted bursaries, and also to enable Collection focused projects, which will secure Barns-Graham’s work and archive for future generations (including conservation, photography, digitisation, research and publications).

For a minimum donation of £1,000 per annum all Patrons will receive a quarterly email newsletter, invitations to select exhibitions, 10% discount on our online shop which includes original prints by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and an invite to exclusive annual Patrons event. Corporate and Individual Patrons will have the choice of being named on our website or remaining anonymous. Please contact the Trust on info@barns-grahamtrust.org.uk if you would be interested in supporting our work in this way.



Seventeen Lines, 1982, pen, ink and oil on board, 13.2 x 19.4 cm, British Museum

Where to See Willie | British Museum and beyond

The British Museum will be staging a special display devoted to the recent gift of 12 Barns-Graham works on paper to their Prints & Drawings collection by the WBG Trust. The display will run from 30 January to 12 May 2024 and be found in the gallery space adjacent to the Prints & Drawing study room on Level 4 (north stairs).

Elsewhere across the UK there are opportunities to see Barns-Graham in museums and galleries – Tate Britain and Tate St Ives both feature important works from the 1950s in their excellent collections displays, Pier Arts Centre and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester also nearly always have some of their Barns-Graham’s on show, and it is likely that Leeds, York & Aberdeen Art Galleries will also have examples on display (please check in advance!).

There is also still chance to see temporary exhibitions featuring Barns-Graham – Parallel Lives: Eight Women Artists at St Barbe Museum + Art Gallery in Lymington (until 13 Jan) and Women & Water at The Women’s Art Collection at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge (until 25 Feb).




A selection of abstract Christmas card designs on red card, some with painted designs

Some examples of unsent Christmas cards from the collection

Picture of the Month

Picture of the Month has an appropriately festive theme this month. Probably from around the 1960s, Barns-Graham began creating an annual Christmas card to send to friends and family. This design of black, dotted lines, intersecting each other on red card was made in 1988. As well as versions that are simply black lines on red card (right), Barns-Graham over-painted a select few, highlighting different abstract shapes in the design. While most of these cards were produced in 1988, the third from the left in the top row, comprised of circles and white lines, is part of a series that the artist worked on some four years later in 1992. It must have been a treat to receive such a refreshingly abstract festive design.