Sandra Blow 1925-2006

Sandra Blow was a student at St Martin's School of Art from 1941 to 1946 and at the Royal Academy in London from 1946 to 1947. Between 1947 and 1950 she worked in Italy, Spain and France. In Italy she met Alberto Burri who was to have an immediate impact on her work. She spent a year in Cornwall in 1957-1958 where she rented a cottage previously occupied by the writer D.H. Lawrence, and spent time with Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton, and other artists associated with St Ives. In 1958 she won an International Guggenheim award and was represented at the Venice Biennale. She was awarded second prize at the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition in 1961. She was a lecturer at the Royal College of Art in London and in 1978 became a Royal Academician. In 1994 she settled permanently in St Ives, and a retrospective of her work was held in the same year at the newly opened Sackler Galleries of the Royal Academy. To celebrate her 80th birthday, a celebratory exhibition was held at Tate St. Ives with a publication on her work by Michael Bird in 2002. Sandra Blow died in 2006. 

 

Her abstract paintings integrate diverse materials, such as sand, ash, plaster, wire and sacking. Blow combines collage with acrylic paint, introducing distinct patches of flat colour and well-defined forms which give an added surface and depth to her compositions. Unlike some of her American contemporaries, careful composition eliminates gestural expression and there is a delicate coherence in her treatment of pictorial space.

 

Her work examines the interplay between the key principles of nature: space, colour and texture. According to Mel Gooding, Blow's use of shape and form carries no philosophical connotation but rather serves to 'create the circumstance of those vital relations between the viewer and the work as an object, and between the viewer, the object and the space around it' ( An Artist of Nature in Sandra Blow: Space and Matter, Tate St Ives, 2002). This has led a number of critics to read her work as an exploration into the formal possibilities of painting, linking her approach to that of the Constructivists and, in Britain, with fellow St Ives painters Roger Hilton and Ben Nicholson.

 

BENEZIT DICTIONARY OF ARTISTS