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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Barbara Crystal Collingwood (1887–1961)

Sculptor and painter. The daughter of the artists William Gershon and Edith Mary Collingwood, she was brought up at Lanehead, Coniston, Cumbria. She received her early art tuition from her parents, before attending Arthur Stockdale Cope’s art school, South Kensington, 1902–05. The author Arthur Ransome, a family friend, proposed to her in 1905 but she rejected him and continued her studies at Reading University, where she gained her Associateship in 1908. In 1910 she exhibited Dolphin, Ferdinand and Miranda, and Spieglein at the Bristol Academy and visited ateliers in Paris. In 1912 she exhibited Diana at the Lake Artists Society and in 1913 was elected a member with her Shakespearean subject, Puck. She exhibited only three times at the Royal Academy: two drawings, Illustration to Herrick’s poems in 1915 and The Princess’s Birthday in 1917, and one sculptural group, Russian ballet, in 1916. Her portrait busts include John Ruskin (plaster; Armitt Museum, Ambleside, 1912, and Ruskin Museum, Coniston, c.1919) and E.M. Forster. Raphael Tuck’s art publishing company accepted her bookplate and card designs. During the First World War she worked with her brother Robin in naval intelligence and after the war carved, to her father’s designs, the war memorials for Coniston and Hawkshead (both Cumbria), and Otley (Leeds). In 1925, she was commissioned by the Alpine Club to produce a memorial plaque to the British climber, Edward Whymper. On 15 September 1925, she married Oscar Gnosspelius, a civil engineer and pioneering aviation expert. Collingwood was an honorary curator of the Ruskin Museum at Coniston and first lady president of the Lake Artists Society, 1932–46, in which role she encouraged submissions from non-members; between 1913 and 1940 she exhibited 34 works at the society’s summer exhibitions.

Bibliography: D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 165–66; M. Hall, The Artists of Cumbria: An Illustrated Dictionary, Newcastle, 1979, p. 17; Historic England (war memorial listings): Coniston, Hawkshead, Otley; Mapping Sculpture; J. Renouf, The Lake Artists Society: A Centenary Celebration, Ambleside, 2004, pp. 72–74.

David A. Cross, 2017