Top British Sculptress Elisabeth Frink's Works At Abbey
Bath Abbey writes: Artworks by Elisabeth Frink, one of Britain's most famous sculptors, and contemporary British artist, Deborah van der Beek, who lives and works in Wiltshire, will be on display in Bath Abbey from Monday 29 October to Friday 16 November. Both of these sculptures provoke a reckoning with the atrocities of war and the power of human sacrifice.
(PICTURES: PIECES BY VAN DER BEEK AND FRINK)
Deborah van der Beek’s ‘Collateral’, based on the skull of a horse, is about the innocent victims of war. The artist was inspired to make this piece after seeing a distressing image of a mother and baby found dead and buried in rubble in Lebanon. The warheads (rockets and mortar shells) embedded in the sculpture are real ones from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some still have sand on them. The bullets also are real, and scattered throughout the sculpture are the day-to-day essentials of life – such as a child’s shoe and a spoiled head of wheat.
Elisabeth Frink’s sculpture ‘Birdman’ was conceived in the early 1950s, in a period where the fall-out from the Second World War still hung heavy over life in Britain. Frink’s father had served as a professional soldier at Dunkirk as well as in other theatres of war. From the family home next to a Suffolk airfield, the young Frink witnessed bombers crash nearby, or returning to the base in flames. The idea of flight, the vulnerability of the airborne man, the tragedy of war, a daughter missing her father and not knowing if he were alive -all were ideas that fed into Frink’s incarnations of man-as-bird-as-man which dominated her work in the 1950s, many years prior to her recognition as one of the foremost British sculptors of the 20th century.
These pieces are being shown in the Abbey as part of this year’s Bath Art Affair (Friday 9 to Monday 12 November), which features a sculpture trail around the city to mark key points of historical and architectural interest with sculptures from a variety of established and emerging artists. Curated by Bath Galleries Group, the trail also incorporates a number of other sites around the city including the grounds of the Holburne Museum.
Dr Alan Garrow, Vicar Theologian at Bath Abbey said: "As an Abbey we are keen to explore what it means to be fully human, and these sculptures are powerfully provocative in this regard. We are delighted, therefore, to exhibit these three pieces in some of the most beautiful, and spiritually demanding, spaces in the Abbey building. The Bath Galleries Group has done a remarkable job in bringing these stunning sculptures to Bath.”
Jemma Hickman, Chair of the Bath Galleries Group said: “We first approached the Abbey because we wanted a site that would complement these magnificent sculptures and were pleased the Abbey responded so positively. However, what we’ve come to realise is that far from offering just an aesthetic setting, seeing these sculptures in the Abbey adds to the viewer’s experience of these pieces, giving an extra cause for thought and reflection. The result is far better than we ever imagined, it’s both a great endorsement of the contemporary art scene and also enhances the sense of what’s unique about each of these pieces.”
The sculptures by Elisabeth Frink and Deborah van der Beek will be available to view at Bath Abbey from Monday 29 October to Friday 16 November, eleven days before the start of Bath Art Affair. The artworks will also continue to be displayed until Friday 16 November, four days after Bath Art Affair ends.
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