Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s dual status as both a St Ives and Scottish artist has long been acknowledged. It was also confirmed in a retrospective exhibition held in both Edinburgh and Penzance in 1989. It was not however, until 2001, in the final decade of her life, that Barns-Graham was at last to receive the accolade of a major monograph (published by Lund Humphries and written by Lynne Green), which restores her to her central place in the history of modern art in Britain. Wilhelmina Barns-Graham is held in major collections of art including the Tate.
In her last decade, while in her eighties, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912-2004) produced an astonishing number of prints. For Barns-Graham, making prints was a liberating experience, one in which she could play with screens to create complete series of images. New ideas sprang constantly from these variations.
Although Barns-Graham had made the occasional etching and linocut, it was screen prints made with Kip Gresham (Curwen Studio) in 1991 that can be seen as the true start of her life as a printmaker. In 1998, a significant turning point came with her introduction to Carol Robertson and Robert Adam of Graal Press. On technique, Graal were able to offer her a more expansive range of possibilities due to their ground-breaking development of water based screen printing inks. With Barns-Graham’s individual brush marks captured on acetate, they made prints that are truly an embodiment of the artist’s painting style. The first series made with Graal was Time. This was so successful that she went on to collaborate with them on the editioning of major sets of images - Millennium, Sunghrie, Earth - concluding with the White Circle, Wind Dance and Water Dance (Porthmeor) series of 2002/3.