A legacy of colour
Anthony Frost teams up with dad Sir Terry
Terry Frost first began to paint during his time as a prisoner of war in Stalag 383 during World War II, little could he know he was beginning an artistic dynasty that would stretch across three generations and traverse the Atlantic.
It’s a dizzying list encapsulating his sons Anthony – who has made a studio above Penzance’s Exchange his home and Adrian, an artist in Arkansaw, grandson Luke, who creates vibrant geographical paintings limited to two or three colours (fellow grandson Dan has chosen the stage for his canvas – his one-man show Drenched has toured extensively).
The work of Terry, Anthony and Luke comes together at Devon’s Brook Gallery alongside work by friends chosen by Anthony. ‘It’s in our genes,’ admits Anthony. ‘My work is a reaction to my father, and Luke’s work is a reaction to me.’
Anthony’s work combines paintings with other materials – this can include and means, more than any other work, they need to be viewed in the flesh. You’ll find sails, hessian sacking and even metal taken from a chair. ‘The sail resists paint as it is waterproof,’ explains Anthony, who enjoys the challenge of making a mark and the effect it leaves. As a result the surfaces offer a history in its layers; a distilling of the medium. ‘I work in an accidental way,’ he continues. ‘I try to be haphazard; I want to show the making of the painting I’m fighting against contrivance.’
Alongside his richly textured collaged paintings, Anthony is showing a series of stunning prints. Working in a medium that requires a flat surface, he has relied on colour and shape to reveal his skill. Both mediums work through creating an environment for accidents to happen, he says. And he works in other mediums - For lovers of the late Mark E Smith, founding member of The Fall, Anthony’s work will be familiar through the many album cover designs he created for his close friend, most notably Extricate. In this show he is joined by a number of handpicked artists including Bob Devereux and Felicity Mara.
Born in St Ives in 1951,
Anthony studied art at Cardiff College of Art and his shows have included Art Now Cornwall at Tate St Ives. He has chosen nearby Penzance as his artistic home with a studio above The Exchange. Like most sons of well-known artists, Anthony has worked to find his own artistic voice separate to that of such a successful and famous artist – his brother Adrian has eschewed colour in favour of monochrome.
‘He does everything in black tar and feathers. He tried not to be an artist – he became a builder in St Ives but drifted back to it.’
A third brother Stephen Frost is best known as actor and comedian who worked with the Comedy Store and as the other half of the Oblivion Boys.
Far from being the elephant in the room, Anthony’s show embraces his father’s work with a series of prints included in the show. Terry was renowned for his use of the Cornish light, colour and shape to start a new art movement in England. ‘He used to go drawing with Peter Lanyon,’ says Anthony of Terry, who was knighted for his contribution to British art. Terry joined artists including Roger Hilton, Patrick Heron, Barbara Hepworth and Bryan Wynter in the Cornish artistic colony of St Ives during the 1950s. ‘Peter would get him to roll around on the ground and look up,’ says Anthony about his father.
Terry’s work captured his experience of the landscape – and the light. His prints together with his son and grandson celebrate that light and a love (and control) of colour that makes all the work very easy to love as well as trace how delight in landscape travelled through the 20th century. But Terry was inspired by many other things. ‘My sister used to copy his work,’ remembers Anthony. ‘It would drive him mad. He used to say “it’s twice as good as mine”.’
Anthony Frost, Family and Friends: St Ives Inspired took place at Brook Gallery Brookgallery.co.uk
ABOVE RIGHT:Acrylic and Pumice on hessian scrim, sailcloth, sacking and canvas (2016)RIGHT:Acrylic and pumice on scaffold netting, rip stop, hessian scrim,sail, sacking and canvas (2016)
LEFT: Artist Anthony Frost, son of Sir Terry Frost sits below work by his father. Photo: Ewen MacDonald