2: Abstraction

Terry Frost

Terry Frost 1915–2003

Tate collection has the main works from the Terry Frost Estate.

TateShots: Sir Terry Frost You Tube video

Sir Terry Frost Trailer

Sir Terry Frost, RA: A Review You Tube video

Stories Behind the Collection – Sir Terry Frost RA, Grey Painting December-January 1959

Walk along the quay   the idea was initially expressed in collage.

Frost spoke of the ‘walk through space [as] an experience and not a window perspective thing at all it was a Time experience’

it was quite a simple experience. I just happened to notice that the boats were there with a different colour when the tide was out and they were all propped up and there I saw all those semi-circles propped up on a stick…Things were happening to my right and beneath my feet…The strange feeling of looking on top of boats at high tide and at the same boats tied up and resting on their support posts when the tide’s out

With Peter Lanyon

Peter would drive me all over the place, along the coast and up on the moors…he taught me to experience landscape…so you lay down in the landscape, you looked up into a tree…you walked over the landscape so that you understood its shape, you looked behind rocks so that you knew what their shape was all the way round and what lay beyond them, you walked over the hills and the high ground so that you knew what was above and below you, and what was above and below the forms all through, you’re travelling through the landscape.


Sir Terry Frost RA (born Terence Ernest Manitou Frost) (13 October 1915 – 1 September 2003) was an English abstract artist, who worked in Newlyn, Cornwall.

Born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, in 1915, he did not become an artist until he was in his 30s. During World War II, he served in France and the Middle East, before joining the commandos. Whilst serving with the commandos in Crete in June 1941 he was captured and became a prisoner of war. As a prisoner at Stalag 383 in Bavaria, he met and was taught by Adrian Heath. He said of his prison experience that it was a ‘tremendous spiritual experience, a more aware or heightened perception during starvation’.

He started painting while a prisoner of war in Germany 1943. Moved to St Ives 1946 and studied under Leonard Fuller; then studied from 1947 at the Camberwell School of Art under Pasmore and Coldstream. Member of the Penwith Society, St Ives, 1950. In 1951 he worked as an assistant to the sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

First one-man exhibition in London at the Leicester Galleries 1952 and in New York at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery 1960. Taught at Bath Academy, Corsham, 1952. Gregory Fellow at Leeds University 1954–6; taught at Leeds College of Art 1956–9. Member of the London Group 1958. Lived at St Ives 1959–63, then moved to Banbury.

Frost’s academic career included teaching at Bath Academy of Art, the Cyprus College of Art and the University of Leeds. Later he became Artist in Residence and Professor of Painting at the Department of Fine Art of the University of Reading.

In 1992, he was elected a Royal Academician and he was knighted in 2000.