Elisabeth Frink & Sturminster Newton – An Unlikely Pairing
The rural town of Sturminster Newton is a surprising hub of history and culture. The Mill is a much loved attraction and the Museum offers the rich history of the town and includes details of the inspiration both Thomas Hardy and William Barnes found in the area. But it is outside the old cattle market, which is now a favoured theatre where the real pièce de résistance of the town lies.
Here you will find a large sculpture known as ‘Desert Head IV’ by Dame Elisabeth Frink, whose sculptures sell from upwards of £100,000 and an artist usually more associated with The Tate Modern and The National Gallery than a small Dorset town, leading one to question what it is doing there?
In 1976 Frink moved to Woolland, a small village not far from the town and this is where she worked and lived until her death in 1993. It is here she spent some of her happiest times with her family, dogs and horses. In an interview with an art critic she commented that ‘living in the country means being near the elements, the climate and the change of season – it is a constant source of ideas’ and added that another source of her inspiration were the people and history of Dorset.
The sculpture was officially presented by her son to the town in 2008 as a gesture of support from the Frink estate for The Exchange, the town’s theatre come community, arts and business centre showing her encouragement of the arts long after her untimely death.
Sturminster Newton is not the only place you can view Frinks work publically in the county. The perhaps more famous Dorset Martyrs memorial can be found in Dorchester on the site of the gallows where Catholic martyrs were hanged during the 16th and 17th centuries. Hop over the border to Wiltshire and you can find her work ‘Walking Madonna’ in the Cathedral Gardens.
Frink has certainly embedded herself here in Dorset as well as on the world stage and it is a terrific honour for Sturminster Newton to have one her important works of art on show.