Major Elisabeth Frink exhibition set for Dorset Museum in Dorchester

AN exhibition showcasing works produced by renowned sculptor Elisabeth Frink in Dorset will be held in Dorchester.

The Dorset Museum will host the display – entitled A View from Within – from December 1, featuring more than 80 sculptures, drawings and prints, including working plasters that informed the final bronze sculptures that have never been on public display before.

One of the most celebrated sculpturers of recent times, Dame Elisabeth became the first female sculptor to be elected as a Royal Academician, in 1973, producing more than 400 sculptures during her illustrious career – many of which were produced at her Woolland studio, in Dorset, between 1976 and 1993.

As part of the exhibition, her Dorset studio will be recreated, featuring her tools and the working plasters that formed the basis of some of her most well-known bronze sculptures.

As well as understanding her artistic process, visitors will get a chance to explore the influence of her private Dorset life, with a selection of personal possessions on display including letters and photographs.

The dying wishes of her son, Lin Jammet, were that the entire Frink Estate and Archive be given to the nation, ensuring her vision of sharing her art in the public sphere was achieved.

This generosity resulted in a significant cultural gift to 12 public museums across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with Dorset Museum receiving more than 300 works in 2020, making it one of the largest public collections of Frink’s work.

The Frink Estate gifted 31 bronze sculptures, more than 100 prints and drawings along with several original plaster sculptures, studio tools and equipment.

Works displayed in A View from Within will be drawn from this collection, as well as from the Frink Archive at the Dorset History Centre, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Ingram Collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art.

Frink shared her Dorset home with husband, Alex Csáky, and they populated the space with paintings and sculpture.

Now in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Seated Man (1986) will return to Dorset, where it once used to be on display by her swimming pool.

The extensive grounds of Woolland helped Frink work in natural light, across all seasons, and was also a place where she could frame both her individual and group sculptures.

One of the last sculptures she ever completed, Standing Horse (1993), was finished at Woolland just weeks before her death from cancer and will be included in the exhibition.

Elizabeth Selby, director of collections and public engagement at Dorset Museum, said: “Elisabeth Frink was an extraordinary artist who explored what it meant to be human through her work.

“This exhibition will portray Frink in a more intimate light, revealing her inner world and the major themes she explored in her sculpture, prints and drawings.

“We are thrilled to be able to display more of the works we acquired from the Elisabeth Frink Estate in 2020, and explore Frink’s connections with Dorset, where she lived and worked from 1976 until her death in 1993.”

Elisabeth Frink: A View from Within is curated by Lucy Johnston, exhibition manager at Dorset Museum and Annette Ratuszniak, former curator of the Elisabeth Frink Estate. Research assistance has been provided by Pippa Davies.

Executive director Claire Dixon, who joined the museum this summer, said: “The museum was transformed by a multi-million-pound extension, but we now need to engage with enough visitors to ensure its survival, as the museum has struggled to recover from the impact of the pandemic and more recent cost of living crisis.

“Exhibitions like this form a crucial part of my vision for a sustainable future for the museum, encouraging repeat visits and providing access to exceptional collections and stories that relate to Dorset but also have wider connections that make them relevant to all.”

The exhibition is sponsored by Duke’s Fine Art Auctioneer’s and supported by the Arts Council England NPO scheme through the Wessex Museums Partnership.

Other funders include JP Marland Trust, the Henry Moore Foundation, the Finnis Scott Foundation and the Fine Family Foundation.

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