Terry FROST

1915—2003

The painter was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.  Having been born into WWI, he took up painting and the desire to become a full-time artist during WWII when taken as a prisoner of war at the invasion of Crete. On an ex-serviceman's grant, he studied first at the St Ives School of Painting from 1946 and then Camberwell School of Art (1947-49), largely by members of the Euston Road Group. His earliest exhibition in Cornwall was at Downing's Bookshop, St Ives in 1947. In 1951 he worked as an assistant to Barbara Hepworth, and began to show his joyous and colourful abstract work in mixed shows, often with other artists working from Cornwall. In 1952 the Leicester Galleries, London presented his first one-man show.

He and his wife Cath moved permanently to West Cornwall (St Ives) in 1957, however in the interim years aside from exhibiting widely, he was employed as lecturer and artist in residence at a range of institutions including Bath Academy (Corsham) and Leeds University (Gregory School of Painting). In 1965 he was appointed a full-time lecturer in the University of Reading, Reader in 1970 and finally Professor of Painting (1977-81) then Professor Emeritus. His growing family remained in West Cornwall throughout, but in 1974 the Frosts moved home and studio from St Ives to Newlyn, Penzance, the whole of the area inspiring his work, and becoming his canvas.

There are long lists of his exhibitions on the Web, and a recital of them here would be unwieldy and disproportionate, but it must be said that Terry and Cath brightened anyone's day upon meeting, and though his circles, swirls, and blocks of colour are not to everyone's taste there is no doubt whatsoever that Frost was to become one of the leading international abstract artists of his time.  His works are held in corporate, public and private collections throughout the world. In 1992, he was elected an RA, and following the choice of his designs to decorate one of the liveried passenger jetplanes of British Airways in the 1990s, he received a Knighthood in 1998. 

Solo exhibitions for Frost at NAG were held first in 1977 and then in 1995, the centennial year of the Gallery, a major exhibition entitled 'Terry Frost - New Work at Eighty' showcased his amazing talent for vigorously renewing the brightness and vitality of his shapes, forms and colouration. This was followed up by the RA which staged a major retrospective of his work in 2000: 'Terry Frost, Six Decades'. At that point, as the marketeers went into overdrive, the Frost tee-shirts, mugs, and wrist watches using his designs, joined the posters, pencils, prints and postcards that have become part and parcel with cultural life today. Without doubt he left his mark.