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Wilhelmina Barns-Graham


1912 - 2004

Artist and printmaker. Born in St. Andrews, Barns-Graham trained at Edinburgh College of Art between 1931 and 1937. She initially rented a studio in Edinburgh but, encouraged by one of her tutors, she moved to Cornwall in 1940. Here she became a leading member of the St. Ives School of artists and made a notable contribution to the development of Modernist British painting. Often drawing on nearby landscapes, her early work was perhaps more representational, although in time her style veered towards the abstract. She travelled regularly to Europe and also taught in Leeds and London. Her inspirations include the movement of the waves, Swiss glaciers and the landscapes of Tuscany and the Orkney Islands.

Recognition came late; she received honorary doctorates from the University of St. Andrews (1992) and Heriot-Watt University (2003), was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1999 and granted a CBE in 2001.

In her later years, she tended to spend winters at Balmungo (Fife), where she died and lies buried in St. Andrews Eastern Cemetery. Her work can be seen in the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland.


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