Born in Huddersfield, the artist studied at Royal College of Art and at the Academie Julian in Paris in 1898. An architect initially, he also demonstrated considerable proficiency on the violin and viola. At the time of the 1901 Census, he and his wife were living at his parental home in Heysham, Lancashire, where he was an art master, later becoming head of Morecambe School of Art. The 1911 Census lists him and his wife lodging at a boarding house in Devon. Balmfield became very deaf, which may have ended his teaching career, and encouraged him to focus on his art practice.
He began exhibiting in 1914 and achieved early success with 'The Jetty, Polperro' at the Royal Academy in 1917, while living in Great Eccleston, Lancs. From 1924 to 1937 he spent a great deal of time in Cornwall, with a studio in St Ives for much of the late 1920s and early 1930s. During this time he became a member of STISA and also exhibited in Newlyn. Despite being a prolific artist, he did not exhibit widely, and between 1917 and 1938 had only eight works, seemingly Cornish scenes, hung at the Royal Academy. His fascination for boats in the harbour is evident from his large number of paintings of Polperro.
Balmford always retained a property in Lancashire, returning to Blackpool in 1937. He died in 1944 and after his wife's death three years later, 450 of his works were displayed at the Educational Institute, Arnside, Cumbria, prior to sale. His decorative style now attracts a number of collectors.
Portrait and landscape painter in oils and watercolours
works and access
Works include: Watergate, on the Looe River (in Manchester AG); The Jetty, Polperro (1924); Boats at Anchor, St Ives (1926); The Running Stream; Summer Landscape, oil on canvas, signed (sold 2011 Barnes Thomas, Pz); East Cliff, Polperro; The Old Bridge, Polperro; A Quaint Corner, Polperro
Access to work: Manchester Art Gallery
RA 1917, 1937, 1938
The Beach Studio, St Ives
STISA c1927 - c1939
Barnes Thomas Auction Cat (Feb 2011) p23 (illus)
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p312)
Johnson & Greutzner (1975) Dictionary of British Artists
Tovey (2000) GF Bradshaw & STISA (Appendix 3 Principal Members of STISA 1927-1960)
Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash
Tovey (2009) St Ives: Social History
Tovey (2010) Sea Change, St Ives 1914-1930
Tovey (2021) Polperro - Cornwall's Forgotten Art Centre - Volume Two - Post-1920, Wilson Books
Whybrow (1994) St Ives (1921-1939 list pp 219-21)
The Year's Art