Sandra Blow was born into a Jewish family in Stoke Newington, London, England in 1925 and began to draw and paint during the Second World War, while staying with her grandparents in Kent. She studied at St. Martin’s School of Art, under Ruskin Spear (1941–46), then, briefly at the Royal Academy (1946–47), before enrolling under Nicolas Carone at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome in 1947, meeting Italian art informel artist Alberto Burri, who encouraged her interest in abstraction. They travelled throughout Italy for a year, briefly living and working together in Paris.
After her return to England in 1950, she committed fully to abstraction, experimenting with collage and materials including hessian, PVC, paper, plaster, ash, tea, sawdust and sand, and was at the forefront of the abstract art movement in Britain during that decade, securing her first solo show at leading London gallery Gimpel Fils in 1951, where she continued to exhibit regularly until the mid-sixties. Gimpel Fils also secured her first solo show in New York and initiated her contact with the artist community of St Ives, where she moved in 1957 for a year. Following her first painting sale, to Roland Penrose (a founder of the ICA), Blow’s career took off. She featured in the first John Moores exhibition in Liverpool (1957), was included in the Young Artists Section at the Venice Biennale (1958) and won the International Guggenheim Award (1960). She also regularly participated in group shows of contemporary British art in Italy, Holland, Germany, the USA, and later, Australasia. She became a Royal Academician in 1978 with retrospectives at the Royal Academy (1994) and Tate St Ives (2001). She died in Truro, Cornwall in 2006.