Barns-Graham Collection & Trust move to Edinburgh

Art Collection

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s Collection & Trust move to 77 Brunswick Street,  Edinburgh

20th century Scottish artist and member of St Ives Group, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s Collection & Trust move to Edinburgh and appoints 2 staff 

The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust announces it has has moved the 20th century Scottish artist and St Ives Group member, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s extensive collection of paintings and library from St Andrews to central Edinburgh so her work can be more accessible to art students and art historians, as well curators, researchers and writers.  The Trust has also appointed 2 new staff members to manage the Trust and her Collection.

Geoffrey Bertram, Chairman of the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust says: “We’re delighted to have found this ideal space at 77 Brunswick Street in Edinburgh to base the Trust and store the Collection.  ‘Willie’ as she was known by her friends, attended Edinburgh College of Art (1931-37) so it’s fitting to be basing her Trust close to the city centre and making her work more readily accessible to Edinburgh’s art college students and historians. In addition the Trust has recently appointed Rob Airey and Ross Irving to the team as Director and Art Collections Manager respectively.  They will be responsible for continuing to raise Willie’s profile through creating more exhibitions and managing our residency and bursary programme for young artists.”

77 Brunswick Street, a former ambulance station, has undergone extensive internal renovation to ensure it’s a properly controlled environment for the care of the Collection   The Trust aims to attract more art students and historians, researchers, curators and art writers to visit the space and work with her extensive Collection.  Access is by appointment.

The new 2400 square feet of space is over 2 floors with the store having ample room for her canvases, works on paper and personal art collection.  The first floor open plan office and library offers space for meetings, presentations, workshops, lectures and talks.

Two new staff members appointed to Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s Trust

To coincide with the move, two appointments have been made – Rob Airey as Director and Ross Irving as Art Collection Manager to the Trust. Both are based its new headquarters at 77 Brunswick Street.

While undertaking his MA in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, Rob Airey had his first detailed introduction to the artists associated with mid 20th century St Ives. His early professional career was focused on collections management, working first at the Government Art Collection and then as a Registrar at the Tate Gallery and the Henry Moore Foundation. His interest in Barns-Graham and the St Ives artists were cemented by a move to Cornwall in 2003. There he coordinated the Public Catalogue Foundation’s Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly volume before becoming Exhibitions Officer at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.  In 2007 he was appointed Keeper of Art at Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery, where he curated a number of important exhibitions as well as managing the Gallery’s permanent collection.

Rob says:  “I hope to use the knowledge and experience gained from 25 years in the public museum and gallery sector to help ensure that Barns-Graham’s position as a central figure of 20th century British art is maintained, as well as using her tremendous legacy to assist a new generation of artists and historians in higher education.”

Ross Irving brings a wealth of experience in collections management and curatorship, formerly working at National Museums Scotland and most recently as Curator with Fife Cultural Trust, working with an important collection of 19th & 20th c. Scottish art. Ross studied History at the University of Aberdeen and Museum Studies Postgraduate at the University of St Andrews. He first encountered Wilhelmina’s work while in Fife, with her close connection to St Andrews.

Ross explains: “I am keen to be working closely with the Collection, particularly Willie’s later work that has an amazing vibrancy. This is a very exciting time to join the Trust, with its new base in the heart of Edinburgh and a new team looking to build on the great work that is already being done.”

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