Elisabeth Frink 1930-1993

Sculptor, draughtsman and teacher, Frink studied at Guildford School of Art, 1947-9, and Chelsea School of Art, 1949-53, under Willi Soukop and Bernard Meadows. She taught at Chelsea School of Art from 1951 to 1961, St Martin’s School of Art, 1954-62, and at the Royal College of Art from 1965 to 1967. 

She was part of a postwar group of British sculptors, dubbed the Geometry of Fear ‘school’, that included Reg Butler, Bernard Meadows, Kenneth Armitage, Eduardo Paolozzi and Lynn Chadwick. Frink’s subject matter included men, birds, dogs, horses and religious motifs, but very seldom any female forms. Bird (1952 held in the Tate), one of a number of bird sculptures, with its alert, menacing stance, characterizes her early work and her inclusion in this ‘school’. Frink’s work was often built up from layers of broken and distressed plaster placed on top of a wire armature, which would then be cast in bronze. Her working method allowing the surface of the sculpture to be vital. 

After early exhibiting with the London Group, Frink had a one-man show at St George’s Gallery in 1955 and four years later at Bertha Shaefer Gallery, New York. She worked on many major public commissions, such as Wild Boar for Harlow New Town; Blind Beggar and Dog, at Bethnal Green and a noble horse and rider for Picadilly, London. The predatory and the vulnerable are both important aspects of Frink’s work. She was elected RA in 1977 and five years later became Dame Elisabeth Frink. Made a Companion of Honour in 1992. She exhibited extensively internationally, with work in major collections including the Tate Gallery and Arts Council. While fighting cancer, Frink struggled to complete her last commission, a monumental but unusual figure of Christ for the front of the Anglican cathedral in Liverpool, unveiled a week before her death in Woolland, Dorset. There was a memorial show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall, in 1994.... read more

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