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Liz Frolich - Educational Artist!

Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2007

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Liz Frolich

`unique and evocative sculptured works of art'

Dronfield based artist Liz Frolich is one of that rare breed of creative innovators who, by applying new techniques to established methods, has succeeded in developing and producing her own unique and evocative sculptured works of art.

Liz, an experienced art teacher whose work is, she says, “Informed by my earliest memories, travels and experiences”, discovered new and exciting techniques with the help of a ‘Research and Development’ grant from the Arts Council in 2002.

It is said that `beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and Liz’s work may not be to everyones taste, but whilst art critics debate the perennial question of `what constitutes art?’ - it is readily apparent even to the layman, that Liz’s newly developed technique is a major breakthrough in the art world.

Competent in ceramics, she is acutely aware that durability is and always has been a problem; ceramic objects d’art are by their very nature extremely brittle and easily broken and valuable pieces are irreplaceable, but this is not the case with Liz’s newly developed and innovative technique!

Her unique and fascinating abstract interpretations, using fabric, wax, and resin, and working with natural forms such as stone, wood and bone are, says the sculptress, “extremely durable”.

They are also, says Liz, “Inspired by legends and myths, the strange and mysterious, energies and processes in nature: cycles of renewal, growth and decay – and the promise of life”.

She sees life itself as `a journey’ and much of her work features `found objects’ discovered along the way which influence her. Many take aquatic forms, and she explains:

“I might find a piece of bleached bone washed up on a beach and use it as the starting point for a sculptural piece; the bone becomes significant because I give it meaning, it’s own `personality’ and thus, it becomes an object, a work of art in it’s own right”.

Liz nurtures a deep love and concern for the environment, for nature and the earth’s ecosystems, and the interconnectedness of all things: “Symbiosis fascinates me and informs my work,” she says.

She also admits to being influenced by the 17th century French painter, Poussin whose pastoral scenes are sensuous and poetic, with pagan influences that he tried to suppress, and one can detect these seductive and mildly erotic undertones in Liz’s unique and appealing sculptures.

More of the techniques and the art work later, what about the artist herself?

“I was born in Coventry and studied initially at the Coventry College of Art for a year, before moving on to study for three years for a degree in Fine Art at the Birmingham College of Art & Design.

“I used to paint, mainly in oils and acrylics, but I decided to pursue a career as a teacher of Art and Ceramics”, said Liz.

After another year of teacher training at the Birmingham School of Art Education, Liz got married and moved to Dronfield – and taught art and ceramics to generations of pupils in the City of Sheffield for the following twenty-seven years!

“I taught at Rowlinson Campus in Sheffield, and had a studio at the Portland Works on Bramall Lane during the seventies, and then in 1986 I moved to a teaching post at Meadowhead School. Teaching is such an absorbing career and I gave everything to my pupils, having little time to devote to my own work - until I took early retirement seven years ago”.

It seems that early retirement was the trigger point which unleashed Liz’s artistic streak, for she very quickly established her own unique signature style working from her studio at the aptly named Persistence Works on Brown Steeet, Sheffield, and has since shown widely in the City and at exhibitions in Scarborough, Leeds City Art Gallery, Rotherham Art Gallery and Museum and Thorne, near Doncaster.

Her latest series of sculptures entitled `Aphrodite’ which was influenced by a visit to the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, was recently exhibited at the London Road Gallery in Sheffield.

The goddess of love and desire, Aphrodite is said to have sprung from the foam of the sea and her story is the inspiration for the fluid and delicate forms which constitute Liz’s latest work – highly individual pieces, suggesting elements of earth magic.

Each piece is the result of many hours of experiment and research to find flexible and fluid forms, and each unique sculpture is constructed by combining the established techniques of fabric stitching and wax-dipping to produce entirely original pieces which can also be moulded and cast in bronze.

Each piece of fabric is hand stitched or smocked with great precision; some pieces are so intricate that this process alone can take up to a month to complete: the resulting piece is then dipped in wax and moulded and shaped, before being coloured and coated in resin for durability. So durable are they, in fact, that they can be safely sited outside in all weathers.

Indeed, whilst exhibiting her work in the newly completed pavilions in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens for the `Secret Gardens 2003’ with the Sheffield Contemporary Artists Trust, her pieces were displayed amongst the living plants – and were faithfully watered every day by the resident gardener!

Now, despite her success as an individual and talented artist, it would seem that teaching art is in Liz’s blood and the old adage about `once a teacher, always a teacher’ is borne out; for working in collaboration with Sheffield artist Roger Gibson, she is currently applying for a Residency at the Yorkshire Art Space Society, with links to the community, to workshops and………. art education!

As part of the `Open Up – Sheffield’ event, her own studio:- Studio 28, Yorkshire ArtSpace Society, Persistence Works, Brown Street, Sheffield, was recently open to the public and according to one visitor who appropriately `waxed lyrical’….. “Liz Frolich’s sculptures are a real education!”

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