28th Mar, 2024 10:00

The Scottish Contemporary Art Auction

  Lot 19


watercolour on paper, signed lower, titled label verso
framed and under glass

image size 51cm x 43cm, overall size 47cm x 57cm

Handwritten artist's label verso.
Note: Barbara Balmer had a singular vision. Her pictures have a curious, if not surreal, edge. In her instantly recognisable style, she took the everyday and simplified it into shapes and patterns that she filled with subtle gradations of colour. Born in Birmingham, she moved to Scotland by way of a scholarship from Coventry School of Art that took her to Edinburgh College of Art (1949-1953). Her contemporaries are a roll call of familiar names of Scottish art: Elizabeth Blackadder, John Houston and Frances Walker to name a few. Balmer, however, eschewed the expressive brushwork and vibrant palette of the time and developed her own unique visual vocabulary. Throughout her long career, spanning more than five decades, she was twice selected to exhibit at the John Moores Exhibition in Liverpool, and had solo shows at the Richard Demarco Gallery and the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh, the Scottish Arts Council Touring Exhibitions and at the Fine Art Society in Edinburgh. Barbara taught at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen between 1970 and 1980 and held a retrospective exhibition at Aberdeen Art Gallery which travelled to Dundee, Lincoln and Coventry. Her work is included in many public and private collections including, The Royal Collection, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Portrait of Richard Demarco), The City Art Centre, Edinburgh, Leicester City Museum, Aberdeen and Stirling Universities, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham, Perth, Dundee and Lincoln Art Galleries. Seven of her paintings were used as dust jackets by Virago for the Modern Classics series and she was an elected member of the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour. In Barbara's obituary in The Herald, Richard Demarco wrote: "I hesitate to define her as an English, Scottish or indeed British artist. Her particular art must be viewed as belonging to the great and enduring tradition associated with the latest manifestations of European painting in this age of modern art".


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Sold for £300
Estimated at £300 - £500

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