Sir Terry FROST RA

The painter was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.  Having been born into WWI, he took up painting and the desire to become a full-time artist during WWII when taken as a prisoner of war at the invasion of Crete. On an ex-serviceman's grant, he studied first at the St Ives School of Painting from 1946 and then Camberwell School of Art (1947-49), largely by members of the Euston Road Group. His earliest exhibition in Cornwall was at Downing's Bookshop, St Ives in 1947. In 1951 he worked as an assistant to Barbara Hepworth, and began to show his joyous and colourful abstract work in mixed shows, often with other artists working from Cornwall. In 1952 the Leicester Galleries, London presented his first one-man show.

He and his wife Cath moved permanently to West Cornwall (St Ives) in 1957, however in the interim years aside from exhibiting widely, he was employed as lecturer and artist in residence at a range of institutions including Bath Academy (Corsham) and Leeds University (Gregory School of Painting). In 1965 he was appointed a full-time lecturer in the University of Reading, Reader in 1970 and finally Professor of Painting (1977-81) then Professor Emeritus. His growing family remained in West Cornwall throughout, but in 1974 the Frosts moved home and studio from St Ives to Newlyn, Penzance, the whole of the area inspiring his work, and becoming his canvas.

There are long lists of his exhibitions on the Web, and a recital of them here would be unwieldy and disproportionate, but it must be said that Terry and Cath brightened anyone's day upon meeting, and though his circles, swirls, and blocks of colour are not to everyone's taste there is no doubt whatsoever that Frost was to become one of the leading international abstract artists of his time.  His works are held in corporate, public and private collections throughout the world. In 1992, he was elected an RA, and following the choice of his designs to decorate one of the liveried passenger jetplanes of British Airways in the 1990s, he received a Knighthood in 1998. 

Solo exhibitions for Frost at NAG were held first in 1977 and then in 1995, the centennial year of the Gallery, a major exhibition entitled 'Terry Frost - New Work at Eighty' showcased his amazing talent for vigorously renewing the brightness and vitality of his shapes, forms and colouration. This was followed up by the RA which staged a major retrospective of his work in 2000: 'Terry Frost, Six Decades'. At that point, as the marketeers went into overdrive, the Frost tee-shirts, mugs, and wrist watches using his designs, joined the posters, pencils, prints and postcards that have become part and parcel with cultural life today. Without doubt he left his mark.



Painting, printmaking, teaching

works and access

Works include: Walk Along the Quay (series 1953); Mars, Orange and Ochre 1960, and Spirals c2000, both at Cornwall Council

Shown in 2008 at Falmouth (Great Atlantic): Stand Up" red, black & white (2001); Three Spires (1999); Black and red spirals; The Juggler (1994); Untitled composition (1955); Black and White Collage (1979); Suspended Forms Gold, Red & Blue (1969); Untitled composition (mid '50s); Untitled Abstract (1958); Suspended forms on yellow (1973); Lizard Red (1995); Newlyn Rhythm Blue (1963)


1960: Painters of Cornwall (group), Plymouth City Art Gallery (selected)

1977: NAG Solo exhibition

1986: RCM & RIC Three Spires Festival Exhibition of Paintings, Sculpture and Pottery, Truro (Opening of the RCM or County Art Gallery, by the Royal Institution of Cornwall)

1987: 'Looking West', RCA & NAG

1988: Art Share, NAG education benefit

1989: NAG, 'Sun, Moon & Stars';  Also selected for 'A Century of Art in Cornwall 1889-1989', Truro

1992: RWA, Bristol: Artists from Cornwall exh (selected)

1995: NAG, 'Terry Frost -- New Work at Eighty'

2008: Great Atlantic Arwenack Street Gallery: 'the golden age of cornish art'

2011: The Exchange, Penzance 'Print!' Apr-Jul: Contemporary and historic prints/printmakers

2015: Centenary exhibition at Newlyn Art Gallery & Exchange, Penzance (Oct - Jan)

2015: Belgrave St Ives (October)



Senior RA 1992


misc further info

WCAA files/archival box.


Personal Bibliography

See Belgrave Galleries website - London and St Ives, for large bibliography and exhibition list.

Kemp et al (2010) Terry Frost Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne

Lewis, et al, ed Knowles (2000) Terry Frost (Biography)


Bird (2008) St Ives Artists: Place & Time;

Brittain, Sarah and Cook, Simon (2001) Behind the Canvas, 40 Artists working in West Cornwall;

Cross (2002) Catching the Wave, Contemporary Art & Artists in Cornwall (pp34-40, photos & illus); 

Great Atlantic Publications & Clark Art Ltd (2008) the golden age of cornish art

Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn, Diary of a Gallery (photo likeness & illus)

Hodge, Alison (2003) Warm Frost

LeGrice (2008) The First Eleven: St Ives Artists (photo)

Paisnel Gallery (2009) Post-War and St Ives Exhibition catalogue

RA (1977) British Painting 1952-1977;

RA Directory of Membership;

Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership

RWE (1992) Artists from Cornwall, Bristol

Tate (1985) St Ives 1939-64 Twenty Five Years of Painting, Sculpture and Pottery;

Tate (2008) Hugh Stoneman: Master Printer Exhibition catalogue

Whybrow (2013) St Ives: The Story of Porthmeor Studios;