Sandra Blow

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.

Blow was concerned with the problems of ‘pure’ painting – balance, colour, shape and scale.

Sandra Blow won the Wollaston Award for the most distinguished work at the 1992 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.  She died in 2006.