The collection of one of Britain’s most iconic female sculptors, Dame Elisabeth Frink, is being sold at auction in Salisbury, after 25 years of lying undiscovered in a barn.
The paintings, ceramics and other artworks that inspired Dame Elisabeth Frink, who died in 1993, were packed away in the mid-1990s and only revisited in the last couple of years, following the sudden death of her son and heir, Lin Jammet, in 2017.
Over 100 lots of sculpture, paintings, studio ceramics and other artworks are being sold at Woolley and Wallis on 26th August, all of which had been on display alongside Frink’s own works at her house, garden and studio in Dorset.
In a series of recordings with the broadcaster, Edward Lucie-Smith, Frink explained that it was important to her that she had “an interesting space to live in”. Curator of the Frink Archive, Annette Ratuszniak, expanded on that to say, “The house and garden reflected her life and pre-occupations as a sculptor. She was able to play with arrangements, groupings, see relationships of forms in different lights and observe juxtapositions and silhouettes.”
Many of the objects displayed in the house at Woolland in the Dorset Downs were gifts or exchanges from her contemporaries or works that Frink herself had bought to support younger talented artists, or others that she greatly admired.
“As a well-respected artist in her own right, Dame Elisabeth Frink was naturally friends with other keen creatives such as Guy Taplin, John Piper and Mary Fedden, all of whom have works featuring in the sale,” explained Victor Fauvelle, paintings specialist at Woolley and Wallis. “Several pieces in the sale bear inscriptions to Frink from the artist, which gives them a wonderfully personal touch and demonstrates her generosity as a supporter and sometimes benefactor of other artists.”
A selection of Aboriginal artworks in the collection were used as inspiration for colour and mark-making in Frink’s work; these artworks were acquired during and after a trip to Australia and led to a somewhat dramatic colour-change in some of her standing sculptures in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Woolley and Wallis design specialist, Michael Jeffery, visited the barn where Frink’s collection had been stored since her death. “Discovering all of these pieces as they emerged from box after box has been an incredible experience,” he said. “It comes as no surprise that she had a very keen sculptural eye, and that can be seen in the form and colour of a lot of objects. There are a handful of prints and drawings by Frink herself (although most material has been retained by the Frink Archive), and these just sit so well alongside large pieces of studio pottery and other truly eclectic pieces.”
With estimates starting in the low hundreds, the Salisbury auctioneers are sure that the collection (being sold as part of the Modern British and 20th Century Art auction on 26th August) will attract strong interest. “There is a lot of variety in this collection,” explained Victor Fauvelle. “Obviously it’s of great fascination for anyone interested in Frink’s work to see the objects that inspired her, but it’s also an opportunity for any art lover to add to their collection, or for someone just looking for the right piece to enhance their home.”