Sunday, 20 February 2011

Draft and Overdraft ...

By special request ... a photo-shoot this afternoon in Shaftesbury Square, Belfast.  A friend of mine worked in the Ulster Bank here when Elisabeth Frink's "Flying Figures" were commissioned by the Bank.
 The two figures are cast aluminium and described as "larger than life size."    Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993) was born in Sussex and soon became known as one of Britain's leading artists.  
She came to see the site in 1961 and work out how she would fulfil her commission.
Three years later she returned (in June 1964) to supervise the erection of the finished installation.  
I can only imagine what people in Belfast (and in the bank) thought of two such figures being displayed in this prominent position ... but now they're simply part of the urban landscape!  
The "Flying Figures" defy being put in any specific category ... human, animal, bird ... all combine to create unusual and dynamic sculptures.  
Being on the side of a bank they were immediately christened "Draft and Overdraft"!  Today their lofty heights were certainly draughty as a sharp breeze whipped round the Square.  One of my friends suggests that they might be called "Highway Robbery"!
This link will take you to an aerial view of Shaftesbury Square, Belfast. 

The exaggerated modelling was used to express the inner spirit of the subject.  Strength, struggle and aggression combined with sensuality and vulnerability are all characteristics found in these creations.  (She rarely worked on the female form.)

From the 1960s onwards Elisabeth tended to created more smooth figures and frequently used horses as her subject matter.  I'm not aware of other works by her in Ireland ... but if anyone knows of any then I'd like to know.
Other famous pieces by Elisabeth Frink include the Walking Madonna at Salisbury Cathedral and the Shepherd and Sheep in Paternoster Square, London.
Much of Frink's later work was done for commissions.  
Her son describes how that his mother worked spontaneously and at great speed.
Elisabeth developed cancer of the oesophagus in 1991 and had surgery twice that year.  She continued to work and held major exhibitions in the US.
Her final piece is "The Risen Christ" commissioned for Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. She watched the installation on television just one week before she died.

Stephen Gardiner, Frink's official biographer, argued that this final sculpture was appropriate: "This awesome work, beautiful, clear and commanding, a vivid mirror-image of the artist's mind and spirit, created against fearful odds, was a perfect memorial for a remarkable great individual."

... and this all started with Draft and Overdraft ... or should that be Draught and Over-draught?!

Almighty God, 
who alone can bring order 
to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: 
Give your people grace 
so to love what you command 
and to desire what you promise; 
that, among the many changes of the world, 
our hearts may surely there be fixed 
where true joys are to be found; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Book of Common Prayer
Collect of the Third Sunday before Lent.


Anonymous said...

I do so love the Shepherd and Sheep in Paternoster Square, London. Good to read the history of the artist. Judyx

Rev Elizabeth said...

Me too ... and hadn't realised until today that it is by the same artist.
Hope you had a good Sunday.