Margaret Barnard’s father, Philip Goodenough Barnard, served in the Indian Police force, in Bengal, where Margaret and her two sisters, Alison and Elizabeth, were born. Margaret was sent back to England, aged seven, to live with relatives, and she attended Bath High School and St. Leonard’s, in Fife. She left Scotland for London in the mid-twenties, to attend the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, and was tutored by Claude Flight (see Artists). She then moved back to Scotland, to Glasgow, where she attended Glasgow School of Art.
In Glasgow, Barnard met fellow artist Robert Sang MacKecknie. The couple married in 1924, and departed for Italy, to a small village outside of Florence. They formed a strong attachment to Italy, and although they returned to England, initially to live and work in London before a move to Rye, in Sussex, Italy would be a place they would visit often, annually taking a summer villa in Positano, Southern Italy.
From Rye they would also visit Scotland, particularly Iona on the West Coast. Barnard’s work shows evidence of both places – she had a fascination for the rock formations and sea- shores of Scotland, but also for vernacular Italian buildings and the gentleness of the Italian landscape (‘Pink Rock, Loch Torridon’; ‘White House in Sunshine, Ravello, Italy’, neither dated). She worked in oils, but also with the linocut – her linocut work is especially influenced by Flight, in particular with the Grosvenor School’s preoccupation with the figure in movement (‘Rowers’, undated) or ‘Night Fishing’,1927).
During the Second World War Barnard stopped painting to help with the war effort: she drove an ambulance, cultivated an allotment and raised rabbits. She also helped man an air-raid shelter in Cadborough Cliff, near Rye. She resumed painting after the war, and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy until her death in 1992.
Public Collections holding work by Margaret Barnard include:
Barnard is collected world-wide by private individuals. Rye Art Gallery, Sussex, holds the most prominent collection of her work.