Sir Terry FROST (1915–2003)

Abstract artist

2 Old Parr Road, Banbury

Terence Ernest Manitou Frost was born in Leamington Spa in 1915, the son of Ernest Walter Frost, then serving with the 97th Royal Field Artillery, and his wife Millicent Maud (née Lines). He left school at fourteen and was employed successively at a bicycle shop, bakery, the Armstrong Whitworth aircraft factory, and an electrical components firm. He had joined the Territorials and was called up in September 1939. He saw service first in France, Palestine, and Lebanon. While serving with the commandos in Crete, he was captured by the Germans in 1941 and it was in Stalag 383 in Bavaria that he first developed his latent artistic talent by doing portraits of fellow prisoners. He was spotted there by fellow prisoner and artist Adrian Heath who was well connected to the avant-garde artists of the time.

In 1945 he was encouraged by Heath to move to Cornwall with his new bride Kathleen (Kath) and join the artistic community in St Ives. Here he got to know Peter Lanyon, John Wells, Denis Mitchell, Sven Berlin, Patrick Heron, and Bryan Winter. He was influenced especially by Ben Nicholson and worked as an assistant to Barbara Hepworth. He also attended the Camberwell School of Art, coming under the contrasting influences of the director William Coldstream who promoted figurative art and of Victor Pasmore who favoured total abstraction. Frost’s work followed a middle way always seeking to capture objective landscape and other subjects, notably poetry, through subjective response expressed in abstract forms. In 1952 he had his first solo exhibition in London at the Leicester Galleries and showed there regularly. By 1958 his reputation was well established and he was consistently included in major exhibitions of abstract art in Britain and on tour, including in the USA. He taught briefly at the University of California and in 1954 had been made the first Gregory Fellow in Painting at Leeds University. From 1965 he began a long association with Reading University, becoming professor of painting in 1977 and professor emeritus in 1981.

Although more famously associated with Cornwall in both his earlier and later years, he lived in Banbury 1963–1974 at 2 Old Parr Road, with his wife and six children.

2 Old Parr Road

In 1974 they returned to Cornwall, to a house and studio in Newlyn. In retirement he was a prolific print maker and branched out into sculpture, jewellery, ceramics, and even tailfin designs for British Airways. He died at St Julia’s hospice, Hayle, near St Ives in 2003. His sons Adrian, Anthony and grandson Luke are also artists, and Stephen is an actor.

Frost was one of the best known artists in Britain by the end of the twentieth century. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1992 and knighted in 1998. His works are held by the Tate, the V&A, the British Museum, the national galleries of Scotland and Wales, most major galleries in the UK, USA, and around the world.


  • Dictionary of National Biography article by Chris Stephens
  • For examples of Frost's work, see the BBC website ‘Your Paintings

The plaque was unveiled at 2 Old Parr Road, Banbury by Stephen Frost, actor and comedian, who gave a warm and hilarious tribute. The ceremony was attended by the Frost family and friends and by community representatives from Banbury and Oxfordshire.

Photographs taken at the unveiling ceremony:



Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board



Abstract Artist

lived here


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