Although she spent time working in various unrelated jobs, Wilma's main interest was in painting. Her art training was at Belfast College of Art where she chose sculpture as her speciality. She returned to painting because she loved colour. In the early 1980s she gave up paid employment to focus full-time on her art.
It seems that her paintings always had some sort of spiritual basis or content, but it was not until almost mid-life that she became explicitly aware that her art was a charting of her own spiritual journey.
She discovered that the shapes appearing in her abstract designs were universal symbols (archetypes) such as the Tree of Life, the Spiral, and the Mandala.
Most of her paintings are abstract or symbolic, but she also had a short period of work in the style of botanical illustrations. I only have a very few photographs of those - most of them were sold when she exhibited at the Royal Horticultural Society and gained a silver medal.
She was influenced by many things, from her parents' early experiences of linen mill work, her Protestant upbringing in Northern Ireland, her membership of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), her interest in the art of Japan and in Zen Buddhism. She never stopped experimenting, tried to let her art speak of herself, and said “I'm not a man; I'm not English or Dutch; I'm not living in 1800 - I need to reflect what I am now as well as what I came from”.
On the following pages I present all of Wilma's artwork for which I have photographic records. The photographs were taken at different times, with various equipment, but mostly using a Mamiya RB67 and lit by a pair of Elinchrom 250 electronic flash units with brollies. The majority of the work consists of paintings, but other media are also represented. I don't have photographic records of all her output, but Wilma experimented with jewellery, enamelling, various types of textile work and silk-screening - see the notes on each item for information about the medium. I've tried to arrange them in date order, but as I don't have definite dates for some of them, this is approximate in places. Many paintings are untitled, but some have words that Wilma wrote to go with them (in some cases long after the painting itself was done).
Click here to see thumbnail copies of each picture, then click on any thumbnail to see a larger version.
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