An important exhibition celebrating key moments in the life and work of the foremost British abstract painter Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912 – 2004) revealing the development of her ideas and visual language, and bringing together many of her well-known Glacier paintings and drawings. During her 64-year career as one of the young 'moderns' working in St Ives in the 1940s, she began exploring the possibilities of painting beyond representation, her images deriving from acute observations of natural forms and sense of place. The exhibition includes early works made in St Ives – some exhibited for the first time since the late 1940s.
This exhibition shows the evolution of a number of key concepts which preoccupied Barns-Graham for more than three decades of her painting career, revealing a psychological response to her experience of the landscape with the direct application of paint, muted palette and flattening of forms. Born in Fife, Scotland, in 1912, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham travelled and studied in Europe during the late 1930s before arriving in St Ives in 1940. Inspired by international abstract trends and her subsequent association with Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and the post-war painters and makers of the Penwith Society, she embarked on a career spanning six decades. The exhibition reveals the development of the artist's distinctive painting and drawings in the St Ives context and includes new works made prior to her death in January 2004.