Wilhelmina Barns-Graham was a painter and printmaker born in St Andrews, Fife. She graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 1937. Thanks to several scholarships, she continued her studies there until 1939 whilst exhibiting at the summer exhibitions of the Royal Academy. In March 1940, she moved to St Ives and became one of the foremost painters of the St Ives School. Alongside her contemporaries within the school, she made a significant contribution to the development of Modernist British painting in the mid to late twentieth century.
In line with the working manner of the St Ives School, Barns-Graham’s paintings began as abstractions based firmly on perception but later she moved to a freer, more personal use of the brush. From the 1960s onwards, she employed hard-edged geometric and linear forms in her work which tended to be depicted in motion.
Barns-Graham’s complete dedication to her art sustained a professional career which lasted over sixty years.