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Sir Terry Frost (British, 1915-2003)

One of the best-loved figures in British art, Terry Frost was encouraged to paint in a prisoner-of-war camp by fellow prisoner and artist Adrian Heath, he moved to St Ives in Cornwall after the war, studying at the St Ives School of Painting. From 1947 to 1950 he attended the Camberwell School of Art, which, with Heath's studio, was the focal point of Constructivist tendencies in England. Frost followed their concern for proportion and systematic procedures but he soon rejected their historicist notions of a necessary development towards abstraction from two to three dimensions and the potential relationship between painting, architecture and design. His first one-man show was held in London at the Leicester Galleries (1952), led to paintings that evoked the features of the Yorkshire countryside and harsh snowy winters. He returned to St Ives in 1956 but spent the decade from 1964 teaching at Reading University, before settling back at Newlyn in 1974.

Terry Frost. Looking from 57 Albert Bridge Road

Looking from 57 Albert Bridge Road
Boy in a Wave
Signed, titled and dated to reverse
Pencil and watercolour
35 x 27 cm. (image)


Frost commented 'I went to Camberwell in 1947 after two years in St Ives, when I'd met Lanyon and Nicholson. Adrian Heath knew what was going on there, and I used to go and see Pasmore on a Saturday morning because he was always there then. He was my god because Adrian had introduced me to his work.'

(D. Lewis, Terry Frost, Aldershot, 2000, p. 40.)

While he was at Camberwell Frost lodged in a house in Albert Bridge Road, Battersea.

Terry Frost. Laced Ovals

Laced Ovals
collage c. 1990 with pen and ink on paper and card
three superimposed ovoid shapes, with central fold along the horizontal, mounted on black card with cross hatched additions in pen and ink by the artist
signed on reverse by the artist in black pen, with drawing of sun
27.5 x 25.5 cm.


A striking an elegant composition, wholly typical of Frost's bold collages.
“This quality of the ‘unfinished' in Frost's drawing is never manneristic; it is, rather, a function of a native urgency, of an imperative to discover an image or quickly register a visual idea, or to put down without delay the notation that might catch a fugitive idea, keep it in sight. Many drawings and small collages of this sort are immediate and spontaneous improvisations on a theme presently being explored on a larger scale in a painting; sometimes they may be the first intimations of a new imagery soon to find deployment in larger and more complex works” (Mel Gooding, Terry Frost: Act & Image. Works on paper through six decades , London & St. Ives, Belgrave Gallery, 2000, p. 10).
Collage is a technique that emerged in Frost's work in the 1960s and recurred with increased frequency from the 1970s until his death. It was a vital shorthand within his repertoire, opening up new worlds of visual experimentation and spontaneity. Frost's use of collage extended to both works on canvas and on paper, adding an impromptu and playful dynamic to them. The compositions Bikini from the early 1970s and Moonlight Becomes You from 1978, both playing on the female form, exemplify another quality that collage brings to Frost's work: that of a wonderful visual humour and whimsy, as well as the artist's ability to convey complex three-dimensional forms and spatial relationships through the use of two-dimensional accreted elements. The ovoid forms evident in the present collage, and the use of reductive black and white, are another important aspect of Frost's works from the 1980s and 1990s. In Untitled from the early 1980s, executed in ink and acrylic on paper, these ovoid forms are interlinked like a paper chain, forming vectors where the flattened rings intersect. A strong visual poetry and a heightened compositional dexterity are powerfully evident in such works and the deployment of collage is one of the keys to their success.

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