Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Glacier Chasm (1951)

About this artwork

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s paintings respond to geological formations and the natural environment, from seaside rocks to glaciers. ‘Glacier Chasm’ was painted following the the artist’s visit to the Grindelwald glaciers in Switzerland in 1949. In 1965 she wrote of the glaciers: “This likeness to glass and transparency combined with solid rough ridges made me wish to combine in a work all angles at once, from above, through and all around, as a bird flies, a total experience.”

  • title: Glacier Chasm
  • accession number: GMA 5180
  • artist: Wilhelmina Barns-GrahamScottish (1912 - 2004)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1951
  • measurements: 76.20 x 91.50 cm
  • credit line: Presented by The Barns-Graham Charitable Trust through the Art Fund 2012
  • copyright: © THE BARNS-GRAHAM CHARITABLE TRUST
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Born in St Andrews, Barns-Graham studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 1932 to 1937, where she became interested in abstract art. She moved to St Ives in Cornwall in 1940, finding among the modernist artists who had settled there (including Naum Gabo, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth) a sympathetic environment for her developing work. A visit to Switzerland in 1948 inspired a series of drawings and paintings of glaciers. Barns-Graham was captivated by the combination of their transparency and rough surfaces. From this time onwards she produced abstract compositions using geometrical forms, but with their origins in nature.