Dame Elisabeth Frink CH RA
Born in Suffolk in 1930, Elisabeth Frink lived in Devon during the Second World War and studied at the Guildford School of Art and The Chelsea School of Art between 1947 and 1953. Though early in her career she was part of the post-war group of artists known as the “Geometry of Fear” school, she later forged her own distinctive artistic style which does not fit into any particular movement.
Frink’s subject matter mainly included male figures, animals and birds and touched on the themes of war, religion and the human condition. Her obituary in the Times noted the three essential focuses of her work as “the nature of Man; the ‘horseness’ of horses; and the divine in the human form”.
Frink created around 400 sculptures over the course of her career and always worked quickly and independently. Frink’s process of creation involved adding plaster to an armature of metal rods and wire. The artist would then shape the dried plaster with an axe, chisels and files and cast the plaster model in bronze. The heavily worked surface of the sculptures often retain the Frink’s finger marks, showing the artist’s direct relationship with her material.
‘Easter Head I’ is an example of one of Frink’s many male busts. Slightly larger-than-life, the face has the warped features – shallow brow and thick lips – which are characteristic of Frink’s human figures. Though best known for her bronze sculptures, Frink also worked in other mediums such as print and textiles. In both the print ‘The Resting Horse’ and the carpet ‘On the Road to Chartes’, the blocks of colour have a 3-dimensional quality, which makes the works almost sculptural.