• Artist page

    Sandra Blow RA

    1925 - 2006

    Split Second

    Split Second

  • About Sandra Blow RA


    One of the most important British pioneers of abstract painting, particularly gestural expressive abstraction, Sandra Blow was born in London in 1925, the daughter of a fruit farmer.  She left school aged 15 and, thanks to her family's supporting her passion for painting, in 1940 entered St Martin's School of Art.

    After the Second World War, Blow went to the Royal Academy Schools, and in 1947 spent a year in Italy.  She travelled around the countryside by motorcycle, studying architecture and pre-Rennaissance frescoes, and had a relationship with Italian abstract artist Alberto Burri.  Burri had a strong impact on Blow's art for the rest of her career, and she later adopted his style of working with coarse materials such as sackcloth, ashes and tar.

    When Blow returned to London she started to define her own artistic style, which frequently incorporated an element of collage.  Although as a student her work was predominantly figurative, abstract art remained her forte, and she had a great talent for working with colour.  John McLean wrote of her work, 'True colourists are rarer than we think.  Sandra could make hues resonate just as much as, say, Matisse and Miro.'

    Blow was concerned with the problems of 'pure' painting - balance, colour, shape and scale.  She explained: 'As well as wanting a balance in the composition, there should be what I call a starting rightness.  This can be any shape or colour: the crucial thing is that, although perfect in its place, there is an unexpected quality about it, an element of surprise.'

    Sandra Blow won the Wollaston Award for the most distinguished work at the 1992 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

    Split Second [1991]
    Screenprint, artist's proof, 122 x 122 cms
    Donated by the artist 1992

    Waves on Porthmeor Beach [1995]
    Collage and charcoal on paper, 14.5 x 20.7cm
    Donated by the estate of Professor Margaret Whitford, 2012