• 18 June - 20 August 2022
  • Pier Arts Centre, 28-36 Victoria Street, Stromness, Orkney Islands, KW16 3AA
  • View Map

Our touring exhibition, Inspirational Journeys, previously seen in Berwick and Bristol, finally reaches Orkney and the glorious Pier Arts Centre, following a number of Covid-19 related delays. The exhibition celebrates Barns-Graham’s journeys away from mainland UK; to Switzerland in 1949, Italy and Spain in the 1950s, Lanzarote in the early 1990s and most significantly for this presentation, to Orkney in 1984 and 1985. Her extended stays on Orkney in the mid-1980s had a significant impact on her artistic practice and lead to a large and diverse body of work which will be shown in depth at the centre of the exhibition.  She wrote in her diaries:


Orkney - “So much work ideas are here – drawings, colour, shapes, moods, space – elongated shapes + then the light + rock groupings – water movement – changes. It is overwhelming – choked with it all.” “Been getting up early + again this lovely clear peach yellow sky. Won’t forget last nights walk the elongated pink clouds what clarity + softness – a little cloud peeping out behind Hoy. Those almost copper pink reflections in the water one way + the ice cream-white blazing the other…” “Colouring in these parts can change so incredibly quickly – intense…blue on left – look right on a cold grey – that’s the sea. Then seaweeds! Growth, wonderful orange + rusts + olive greens especially after rain. The grey waters too can be two shades of grey sometimes blue grey or yellow grey – the quilted fields at least three shades of green – emerald, bluer, yellower, darker – two shades of ochre bounded by stone walls + on top bound by deep rich brown of the heather. The influence of the sky is into the water...

WBG Diary 1984