Terry Frost Centenary Exhibition Announced For Tate St Ives

Terry Frost

The British artist Terry Frost (1915 – 2003) is explored for his centenary in a new exhibition at Tate St Ives. A selection of the artist’s most significant paintings with collages and sculpture from public and private collections across the UK. Looking at Frost’s work through ideas of performance, construction and colour, the exhibition takes a fresh perspective on his practice over six decades. This timely retrospective has been organised by Tate St Ives and is a collaboration with Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange and Leeds Art Gallery. It will be shown at Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange from 10 October 2015 to 9 January 2016. 

Living in St Ives during the 1950s, Frost was part of a close circle of emerging British modernists working with abstraction, including Roger Hilton, Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and Bryan Wynter. The exhibition will highlight key paintings with collages and sculptures from Terry Frost’s formative periods working in Cornwall and Yorkshire, including paintings from his breakthrough Walk Along the Quay series, begun in 1950. These tall, thin canvases are evocative of the seaside town of St Ives. In contrast are the large-scale paintings such as Blue Winter 1956 and Orange and Black, Leeds 1957, painted in response to the Yorkshire Dales, after his move to Leeds. 

After discovering acrylic paint while teaching in California in the 1960s, Frost became increasingly interested in colour as a presence or character in itself. Looped and heaped weights of colour seemingly bulge from these canvases, sometimes becoming three-dimensional in his collages or sculpture. In 1970 Frost developed a range of ‘soft sculptures’ including stacks, spirals and loops, made from painted canvas tubes filled with polystyrene balls. Suspending these arcing forms from the walls and ceiling, or bundling them together, he sought to bring out colour in all its intensity without hard structure or flat surface- as a brushstroke in space. The exhibition will feature a re-commissioned series of these little-known, strikingly contemporary three dimensional works. Frost was painting into his late eighties and his passion for colour in all its potential remained undiminished.

Sir Terry Frost (1915–2003) was a British abstract artist who worked in St Ives and Newlyn, Cornwall. Frost started painting while a prisoner of war in Germany in 1943 when he met painter Adrian Heath, and later studied at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London (now known as Camberwell College of Arts) under Victor Pasmore and William Coldstream. 

When Frost arrived in the Cornish fishing port of St Ives in 1946 it was just emerging as a hub for modern British art. Working in close proximity to established artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, Frost developed his own personal approach to abstract art imbued with the experience and sensation of being in the world.

In 1952, Frost taught at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham. In 1954, he was invited to be a Gregory Fellow at the University of Leeds for two years, and taught at Leeds College of Art (1956–9). 

The imposing landscape of the Yorkshire Dales and Frost’s role as teacher both became important means of creative discovery. His enthusiasm for experimentation in the classroom fed the development of his own work, particularly his joyous approach to colour. 

Frost was elected a Royal Academician in 1992 and in 1998 was awarded a knighthood for his services to Art and Art Education.


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