Elisabeth Frink was born in Suffolk in 1930, growing up during WWII and the legacy of war was to be a defining feature of Frink’s career. She studied first at the Guildford School of Art from 1947 until 1949, and then at the Chelsea School of Art until 1953, and her first solo show was in 1952 at Beaux Arts gallery, London. Initially associated with the so-called ‘Geometry of Fear’ group of sculptors including Reg Butler, her teacher Bernard Meadows, Kenneth Armitage, Eduardo Paolozzi and Lynn Chadwick, Frink was propelled to near-overnight fame in 1953 with her prize-winning entry for the ‘Unknown Political Prisoner’ competition. From the outset her sculptural practice was dominated by male figures, male-bird hybrids, helmeted warriors, horses, dogs, figures in flight and goggled male heads. Throughout the post-war period, Frink championed figurative sculpture, seeking to capture the human condition and the human experience in bronze. Frink died at the age of just 59 in 1993.
Frink received many prominent public commissions for large-scale sculptural work including Blind Beggar and Dog, 1957; Bethnal Green Metropolitan Borough, Eagle Lectern, 1962; Coventry Cathedral, Horse and Rider, 1974; Trafalgar House, Dover Street, London, Walking Madonna, 1981; Salisbury Cathedral, Dorset Martyrs, 1985-6; Dorchester, Risen Christ, 1992; Liverpool Cathedral. Her work is held in major international collections including Tate, MoMA, Carnegie Institute; Pittsburg, and National Gallery of Victoria; Melbourne. She was awarded a CBE in 1966, elected to the board of trustees for the British Museum in 1975, elected a Royal Academician in 1976, was appointed a trustee of the Welsh Sculpture Trust in 1980 and made a Dame in the same year. Her work was the subject of a major retrospective at the Royal Academy in 1985, and major posthumous exhibitions were held at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1993 and 2002, and at the Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham in 2001.