Yvonne Barlow (1924 - 2017)

About Yvonne Barlow (1924 - 2017)


Yvonne was born in Muswell Hill, North London in 1924. Always been interested in the arts and music, she won a scholarship to study at the (London) Central School of Art. However, no paintings of Yvonne’s remain from that time. They were either given away as presents or sold to a man in Soho. Furthermore, Yvonne was only allowed three or four canvases per year with her scholarship, so she had to over-paint her work sometimes. Yvonne was at that time particularly influenced by Cezanne, Lautrec, Goya and Rembrandt.
Yvonne’s first solo exhibition was in 1964 at the Upper Grosvenor Gallery. At the last moment, they included some of Yvonne’s ‘Pillage’ paintings, which attracted immediate media attention. The works were light-hearted collages of unused drugs which patients had returned to the hospital, and which Andrew had brought home for her. Titles for two of them were ‘Purple hearts’ and ‘A bouquet for matron’.
In 1967, with her husband Andrew Barlow, Yvonne bought a farm called Inch Kenneth, in Scotland on the Island of Soay. Although she has never painted on the island, she has made sketches and Inch Kenneth has been the inspiration for several of her paintings including the Crossings series.
The works of Wrestlers were inspired by Eadward Muybridge, who did studies of people and animals in motion while the works entitled Encounters have been inspired by Chilterns woodland and influenced by very difficult times working on the renovation of the Barlow family house in Wimpole Street. Yvonne had the feeling of things going on and being plotted behind her back during the renovations and this atmosphere of mystery, and perhaps conspiracy, pervades the Encounters series. Is there a conspiracy, or are the groups simply planning the hunting strategy for the day?
There is a mystery to her work: although most of Yvonne’s life has been London-based, it is curious that almost none of the work features London explicitly.  The thread running through her painting is undoubtedly beautiful places as a backdrop of dramatic times.