Royal West of England Academy: Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s ‘Inspirational Journeys’ Touring Exhibition

Sat, 14/03/2020 - Sun, 24/05/2020

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust touring exhibition ‘Inspirational Journeys’, based on the prominent 20th century British artist and St Ives group member Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s travels in Europe, opens at Royal West of England Academy, Bristol on 14 March and runs through until 24 May. The exhibition outlines the importance of her trips to Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Orkney and Lanzarote, revealing how they provided a significant impact on her wider practice and led to new perspectives, themes and stylistic changes in her work over a period of 45 years. 

Rob Airey, Director of the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust, who has curated the exhibition, says: “This is a very exciting addition to our Barns-Graham touring exhibitions, and we’re delighted that it is to be seen at the RWA.  This show looks at Willie’s regular trips into Europe, sometimes specifically to work, but more often for holidays.  However, as she worked almost daily, every new experience and place would feature in new work made at the time and back in her studio. This exhibition highlights the importance that travel had for her and is reflected both in the detailed figurative depictions of specific landscapes and colourful abstract paintings.”

Head of Programme & Curator of Exhibitions of RWA Nathalie Levi states: “We are delighted to be working with Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust in presenting the ‘Inspirational Journeys’ exhibition in Bristol. Barns-Graham was a true pioneer of modern British art in the late twentieth century, and we look forward to learning more about how her travels to Europe informed the development of her work”

A fully illustrated catalogue is available with a new essay focusing particularly on Barns-Graham’s journeys to Switzerland and Italy, by independent curator Dr Rachel Rose Smith. Following Royal West of England Academy, ‘Inspirational Journeys’ will travel to The Atkinson, Southport and Pier Arts Centre, Orkney. 
Running concurrently throughout this exhibition at RWA is ‘St Ives: Movements in Art and Life’, curated by Dr Rachel Rose Smith, that looks at how in 1939 St Ives became a temporary home to some of Britain’s most forward-thinking abstract artists fleeing the dangers of the Second World War, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham included.

Also on display (14 March – 12 April) is ‘Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Prints’ presenting a collection of her vibrant, colourful late screenprints made between 1998 and 2003.

The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust was established by the artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham CBE HRSA HRSW in 1987. The Trust exists to enhance the reputation and understanding of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham as one of Britain’s most significant 20th century artists and through her legacy, supports young people and other individuals to fulfil their potential in the visual arts through its programme of bursaries and residencies.

Bursaries: The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust supports students at select art colleges and universities around the UK. Arising from the significance of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s own travels the awards provided include travel scholarships for fine art students at Falmouth University (for Italy), Edinburgh College of Art and University of Highlands Islands. In addition, a 
travel scholarship is also provided through the Royal Scottish Academy.

See more at

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s work is represented by Waterhouse & Dodd in London, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh and The Belgrave Gallery, St Ives.

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Event location: 
Queen’s Road, Clifton
Bristol BS8 1PX
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