Terry Frost Exhibition @ Leeds Art Gallery

[Image Terry Frost Autumn Rings Andeuze-1971.The Usher Gallery Collection Lincoln- The estate of Sir Terry Frost]


Frost’s oil on canvas: “High Yellow-Yorkshire,” radiates from the vast white walls of Leeds Central Gallery. Geometric blocks of colour, composed by one of the UK’s most prominent abstract artists, are striking, thoughtful and energetic. They echo the jaunty landscape of rural Yorkshire, which is known to have been an inspiration to the artist who spent time teaching and studying in Leeds in the 1950s.

Vibrant, cylindrical shapes are looped, entwined and hung from the ceilings; a playful use of space that matches Frost’s imaginative perspective of the world. This boisterous and exciting use of colour and form permeates the collection which includes paintings, sculpture and collage, brought to the city thanks to the collaborative work of Leeds Central Gallery and Tate St. Ives.


Terry Frost, High Yellow, c.1955, bought by LeedsArtFund (LeedsMuseumsandGalleries) courtesy Terry Frost Estate
[Terry Frost, High Yellow, c.1955, bought by LeedsArtFund (LeedsMuseumsandGalleries) courtesy Terry Frost Estate]


In contrast to Frost’s powerful paintings are his somewhat mellow sketch books which appear personal, sentimental and provide a glimpse into the creative process of this much loved and highly regarded figure in the art community. As do photographs of Frost that pepper the exhibition providing a biographical insight into his creative journey which is apt; the exhibition marks the centenary of Frost’s life work.

This journey began in 1941 at Stalag, a German prisoner of war camp where Frost painted portraits of fellow inmates. His experiences of starvation and confinement within the camp are said to have given the budding artist a new perspective and after his release and return to the UK, Frost began to pursue his new vocation in life as an artist. This however was not an easy transition; he was rejected from art schools due to a lack of A-levels. He eventually found his place at the Camberwell School of Art and used his ex-serviceman’s grant to subsidise his studies.

Frost’s journey took him to ST. Ives where he worked for Yorkshire born artist Barbra Hepworth and continued to develop as an abstract painter. His career led him to Bath, Leeds and eventually Frost had his very own one man international show at the Bertha Schaeffer Gallery, New York in 1961. His success from here on out made him one of our most cherished British artists.


Terry Frost, Green Below, 2003, private collection © The estate of Sir Terry Frost
[Terry Frost, Green Below, 2003, private collection © The estate of Sir Terry Frost]


And now , in the year of his centenary, Frost work is showing in Leeds. This lively and dramatic exhibition is a feast for the eyes and celebrates the work of a widely acclaimed modern artist. The collection can be viewed until August 30th, afternoon tours of the collection are available.

Gemma Thorpe