Elected ARSA: 21 March 1973

Elected RSA: 25 May 2005

Barbara Balmer RSA was born in Birmingham and studied art at Coventry College of Art before continuing her education at Edinburgh College of Art. Upon graduation in 1948, she embarked upon a series of travelling scholarships including the Andrew Grant Scholarship and the Edinburgh College of Art Travelling Scholarship, completing these travels around Spain in 1952. However, an initial trip to Italy in 1973 was to have a considerable impact upon her painting and this heralded an enduring love for the Italian landscape thereafter.

Between 1970 and 1980, Barbara taught at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. This link to the city would re-emerge with Aberdeen Art Gallery’s hosting of her retrospective in 1995, a tour which would also include Dundee, Lincoln and Coventry.

Barbara sited her domestic environment as a suitable working space. Instantly recognisable, her paintings using soft muted colours, are known for their subtle understatement, effectively reflecting Barbara’s calm, gentle manner. Still lives, portraiture, interior views and landscape all feature in her large back catalogue.

Barbara exhibited widely and enjoyed success through more than twenty solo exhibitions. These included shows at John Moores, Liverpool (1953 and 1965); The Richard Demarco Gallery; Stirling Gallery; The Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh; and the Posterngate, Hull to name a few. She also was part of the Scottish Arts Council Touring Exhibitions programme.
Her work can be found in many private and public collections including The Royal Collection; The Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Leicester City Museum; the Universities of Aberdeen and Stirling and the municipal collections in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Perth, Dundee and Lincoln.


Barbara was elected to the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1966.