For over half a century, Barbara Tribe’s sculptures were one of the highlights of STISA exhibitions. Born Sydney to broadminded bohemian parents, who had emigrated from England, she began her studies at the age of fifteen at Sydney Technical Collage, under Rayner Hoff, winning a bronze medal for sculpture in 1933. Hoff commented, “I have never known anyone acquire so much facility in so short a time” and she became his assistant, working on the Anzac War Memorial in Sidney’s Hyde Park. She first came to England in 1935 under New South Wales Art Scholarship to the RA schools. It was the first time that the scholarship had been awarded to a woman and also the first time that a sculptor had been chosen. The superb nude, “Caprice” which won her the scholarship is now owned by The Art Gallery of South Australia. She then studied further at the City and Guilds School of art, Kennington in 1936-7 and at Regent Street Polytechnic under the sculptor, Harold Brownsword. Having elected to remain in Britain, she worked during the Second World War for the inspectorate of Ancient Monuments, recording the interiors of important London buildings in danger of demolition from the enemy bombs. She also did a number of portrait sculptures of members of the Royal Australian Air Force, many of which are now in Australian Art Galleries. During this time, she met the potter, John Singleman, and , upon their marriage in 1947, they decided, to settle in Cornwall. They converted the former Baptist Sunday School in Sheffield, Paul, near Penzance into a studio, and this was to be her home for the rest of her life. She first exhibited with the STISA in the 1948 Summer Exhibition, by which time she was already an Associate of the Royal British Sculptors (Fellow 1957). Her work immediately shows signs of being influenced by Barbara Hepworth. Holes and strings appear in her works of the early 1950,s and her contribution to the 1953 Football and Fine Arts Competition was an abstract work. However, she soon reverted back to more traditional representational work, although in the late 1950,s she was inspired by the collections of ancient and primitive art in the British Museum. She was elected to the inaugurated Society of Portrait Sculptors in 1953. Her portraits included many leading figures in both Australia and England including Sir Winston Churchill and Gracie Fields.
From the Artist