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Elisabeth Frink

Elisabeth Frink was one of Britain’s leading 20th-century sculptors. She created, without the aid of assistants, an impressive body of over 400 sculptures while working in a succession of studios – in London, France and finally Dorset.

Early in her career, Frink settled on images such as male figures, heads, animals and birds, as a way of consistently investigating certain themes. Her work is seen and known through galleries and exhibitions. But for some people her sculpture is part of their lives in a quite different way - passed by in a street, shopping centre or business quarter, next to a café, part of a cathedral or school. These particular sculptures have become embedded within the experience of a particular place, familiar, but still with the capacity to surprise and even mystify.

Throughout her lifetime Frink received many commissions for public buildings, urban environments and sacred spaces. This exhibition presents the stories of these sculptures from studio to place, and examines the changing demands and attitudes of commissioners as urban Britain moved from post Second-World War reconstruction to new agendas for built environments. Rarely seen studio and archive material including original plasters, photographs, film, letters and papers saved from her final studio at Woolland in Dorset, are shown along with sculptures cast in bronze, drawings and original prints.

Including loans from private collections and the Frink Estate, the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into Frink’s inspirations and working methods, and the significance of the ongoing presence of her commissioned work. Some have fared better than others – silent witnesses of changing places and communities in modern Britain.

Elisabeth Frink: The Presence of Sculpture has been curated for the Djanogly Gallery by Annette Ratuszniak (Curator, Frink Estate) with Neil Walker (Head of Visual Arts Programming). A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Image: Eagle Lectern 1962 bronze by Elisabeth Frink. Commissioned by Sir Basil Spence and Partners for Coventry Cathedral © The Estate of Elisabeth Frink, 2015