Elisabeth Frink came to prominence in the early 1950s for sculptures depicting birds of prey and the male form. The Arts Council Collection acquired this work the year after Frink left Chelsea School of Art in London. Her sculptures often convey overt militaristic references. Frink grew up near an airbase in Suffolk during the Second World War, and her childhood experiences are clearly evident in both the concept and material form of this early sculpture. The head and neck of ‘Bird’ resemble the nose of a fighter plane. The eagle has long been associated with military power and empire, but Frink’s ‘Bird’ is impossible to identify according to species and instead occupies the realm of a more generic predator. The straining shape of this bird could also be read as a comment on the conflict between the idealised heroic attitudes towards a war just won and the dehumanising aspects of its gruesome reality.
The craggy, rough surface of this sculpture was created using a method Frink employed throughout her lifetime. Through the application of wet plaster onto constructed metal armatures, Frink was able to build up texture and surface before casting in bronze.