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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930–1993)

Sculptor and printmaker, born in Thurlow, Suffolk. She studied at Guildford School of Art, 1947–49, and then Chelsea School of Art, 1949–53, under Willi Soukop and Bernard Meadows. She taught at Chelsea School of Art, 1953–61, at St Martin’s School of Art, 1954–62, and at the Royal College of Art, 1965–67. Her first solo exhibition (following some early shows with the London Group) was at St George’s Gallery, London, 1955, and her first overseas exhibition was in 1959 at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York; she subsequently exhibited worldwide. She had a retrospective at the Royal Academy, 1985, and a memorial exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall, 1994. Frink was elected an Associate Royal Academician in 1972 and full RA in 1977; she was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and was awarded the society’s Gold Medal for Sculpture in 1993. She was appointed CBE in 1969, and was made DBE in 1982 and Companion of Honour in 1992. Examples of her work are in the Tate and the Arts Council collection. Her work is figurative, consisting chiefly of men, animal and bird subjects, and including series such as the goggle heads, running men, horses and riders, etc. Public commissions include Wild Boar, 1957, Harlow New Town; Blind Beggar and Dog, 1957, Bethnal Green; Eagle Lectern, 1962, Coventry Cathedral; Paternoster, 1975, Paternoster Square, City of London; Horse and Rider 1975, New Bond Street, London; Standing ManWalking Man and Running Man, 1985, WH Smith Headquarters, Swindon; and Water Buffaloes, 1986, Hong Kong. Her final work, the Risen Christ on the West Front of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, was unveiled a week before her death from cancer on 18 April 1993. She was the subject of catalogues raisonné in 1984 and 2013 and an official biography in 1998.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 2–3; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 244–45; R. Cocke, Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool, 2013, p. 197–98; S. Gardiner, Elisabeth Frink. The Official Biography, (1998), 1999; Mapping Sculpture; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 118–19; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham (ed. J. Beach), Liverpool, 1998, pp. 51–52; J. Collins, ‘Frink, Dame Elisabeth Jean (1930–1993), sculptor and printmaker’, ODNB (2004), 2015; A. Ratuszniak (ed.), Elisabeth Frink. Catalogue raisonné of sculpture 1947–93, London, 2013; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, pp. 139–40, 171–72; J. Willder (ed.), Elisabeth Frink, Sculpture. Catalogue Raisonné, Salisbury, Wilts., 1984; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 230–31; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 57–58, 222; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 150–51.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Frink, Elisabeth, Dame

Dame Elisabeth Frink, March 1990 (photo: © A.K. Purkiss)