Negotiated Project: Week 3

3 November 2022

Artist Research: Frank To

On our visit to the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol one of the exhibits was King of Bees by Frank To. It really grabbed my attention because it was ignited gunpowder and coloured powder on wooden board.

I really liked the detail and the irony of using explosives to depict a species that is in decline wasn’t lost on me. On face value I probably took it as an environment piece, political commentary on the state of climate change. There are a lot of plastics and chemicals involved in the process of making modern gunpowder. However, when I started looking into Frank’s gunpowder art, I think there is a deeper message and mission behind all this.

Frank To want’s his art to inspire people to think twice about the value of life. One of his collaboration projects is the “Humanium Metal Initiative”. Humanium is a metal made from the melting down of illegal firearms that are seized across the world and made into other products. He supports attempts to reduce gun violence.

Frank is also part of instagram #artistssupportpledge. Each time an artist reaches £1,000 of sales, they pledge to buy £200 of work from other artists. This came about during Covid-19 restrictions. I have started following him on insta because I find his work inspirational. I respect that he has this underlying passion that underpins his work and use of the explosive powders with other materials.

Art with a purpose.

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