Elisabeth Frink was born in Thurlow, Suffolk, in 1930. One of Britain’s leading sculptors, Frink taught at the Chelsea School of art, and the Royal College of Art. She was awarded many honorary degrees and awards including the CBE in 1969, and in 1982 she was created Dame of the British Empire.
Men, dogs, horses and birds were constant subject-matter throughout Frink’s career. She modelled, cast in plaster and then carved the plaster, to achieve a tougher surface when the plaster was cast in bronze. She rarely worked with the female form: ‘I have focused on the male because to me he is a subtle combination of sensuality and strength with vulnerability,’ Frink is quoted as saying in the catalogue raisonné of her work (Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture, Harpvale, 1984).
Her figures have dignity, mystery and a simplicity of form which place them apart from us: they seem to be focused elsewhere. The animals demonstrate her deep understanding of their state, for she encapsulates their innate and individual characteristics. Frink’s drawing and graphic work followed the same themes, being executed with the economy of means and feeling for surface texture that is to be found in her three-dimensional work. Elisabeth Frink died in 1993.
Pictured: Horse and Rider, bronze, 1974