Art - Sandra Blow

In 1948 the English abstract painter Sandra Blow had an experience which sounds like a clunky plot device from an old movie. Twenty-two-year-old Blow, who had studied classical fine art at St Martins College and the Royal Academy, had gone to Rome to study the Renaissance painters in the flesh. While there she had met the Italian abstract painter Alberto Burri, who had taken her under his wing. Suddenly she saw art in a different light, and decided that abstract was the only way forward for her, though she wanted to incorporate elements of Renaissance art into her work. One day, a year into her trip, she sent two letters home, one to her parents, the other to her more flighty aunt. To the former she told of what a lovely time she was having, to the latter she related how she had lost her virginity to Burri under an olive tree. Unfortunately she muddled up the envelopes, with disastrous results. She was ordered home immediately. Luckily for British art, she had already learnt enough to completely change the course of her career.

Standing amid a selection of Blow’s late silk-screen collages, in Four Square Fine Arts in Mount Place, it is easy to understand her mistake. Blow incorporated a lot of collage into her abstract art, and was forever cutting things, and mixing them round to produce the effect she made her trademark. The frames on show - they have just arrived just before me and some of them are still in bubble-wrap - were all produced this century, when Blow was in her late seventies. Many class the last years of her career as being among the most important, a ‘late flowering’ which saw her brighten up her palette.


Brilliant Corner III by Sandra Blow