CIRCA PIPELINE: FRANK BOWLING
One of Britain’s greatest living artists, Sir Frank Bowling, inaugurates CIRCA PIPELINE – a new print initiative generating £500,000 in art supplies for 100 state primary schools across the UK. Coinciding with the artist’s 90th birthday on Monday, 26 February 2024, 100 hand-signed, 14-layer, silk-screen prints will be released exclusively here on CIRCA.ART to enable more young people the opportunity to make a life in the creative sectors.
“Access to materials isn’t just about creating; it’s about nurturing possibility. Artists will always do what they have to do and find ways of doing – art finds a way, but young children need schools to be a place of artistic possibilities. It’s not just about making art; it’s about making sure they feel empowered to create, no matter what. Let’s spark that fire early on.” – Frank Bowling
A print with purpose, the CIRCA PIPELINE initiative responds directly to a creativity crisis in UK state primary schools. In 2019, 68% of primary school teachers in England felt there was less arts education now than in 2010, with 49% believing the quality had decreased. In 2021, the creative industries sector contributed £109bn to the UK economy – equivalent to 5.6% of the UK economy that year. Yet, the current education curriculum does not reflect this potential for young people. The 2023 ‘Arts in Schools’ report by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and A New Direction notes that ‘there is a lack of value ascribed to the arts within the state education system in England’ despite the evidence which shows the importance of an arts education to young people’s skills development.
Highlighting the intersection of art, education and philanthropy, proceeds from the sale of ‘Understanding Frank’ (2024) will facilitate the rollout of an arts programme to over 100 UK state primary schools in 2024/5. In partnership with Findel Education – one of the leading eCommerce educational resource suppliers in the UK – 30,000 children will receive free access to paint, brushes, colouring pencils and canvases. Fostering a deeper appreciation for the arts in classrooms across the UK, a six-week programme developed between Frank Bowling Studio, Goldsmiths, University of London and CIRCA will guide children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old on a journey to create their very own paintings inspired by Bowling. CIRCA PIPELINE will culminate in the Summer of 2025 when participating students’ work will be exhibited on Landsec’s Piccadilly Lights. Scroll down to apply before 30 April 2024.
Bowling is known for his pioneering experimentations with paint, including his celebrated ‘map paintings’ (1967–71), which feature vast fields of colour overlaid with stencilled world maps. ‘Understanding Frank’ (2024) originates from a collage created inside Bernard H. Gundlach’s ‘Understanding Numbers’ colouring book for the exhibition ‘Dialects: Diverse Bookworks by Black and Hispanic Artists’ (1980), curated by Horace Brockington. The exhibition brought together artists of colour working outside of book art – including Frank, David Hammons, and Sam Gilliam – to create new experimental works. Created at a time when artists of colour had limited opportunities in the art world, this new release supporting the CIRCA PIPELINE is the only work by Bowling ever to feature a map of the British Isles.
UK STATE PRIMARY SCHOOLS
APPLY BEFORE 30 APRIL
An urgent response to the creativity crisis in UK classrooms, CIRCA PIPELINE sets out to establish a clear and accessible pathway for 30,000 young people to pursue a life of creative freedom. This new, open-access pipeline focuses on primary education by providing children between the ages of 5 and 11 with the material means to create and exhibit art to a broader public.
Made possible by the generosity of Frank Bowling and Rachel Scott Bowling, proceeds from the sale of each print will enable one UK state primary school (100 schools in total/30,000 children) to participate in a six-week course developed in association with Goldsmiths, University of London. Each school will receive professional guidance alongside a free pack – distributed in partnership with Findel Education – containing the following materials:
- 120 Specialist Crafts Paint
- 300 Stretch Canvases
- 300 Long Round Paint Brushes
- 300 Colouring Mixing Trays
- 300 A4 Sketchbooks
- 300 Pan Sets of 12 Classmates Colour Watercolours
- 300 White Synthetic Sable Brushes
- 2,880 Findel Everyday Colouring Pencils
CIRCA PIPELINE will culminate in the Summer of 2025 when participating students’ work will be exhibited on Landsec’s Piccadilly Lights. To apply, please fill in the form before 30 April 2024. We will announce the 100 final schools on Monday 3 June 2024.
Frank Bowling: A Life in Art
Essay by Farah Nayeri
Frank Bowling is a painter of abstraction: a maker of vast canvases awash with nuances of resplendent colour. These bursts of red, blue, yellow and green look like controlled explosions; they seem purely chromatic, and divorced of any narrative or meaning. Yet look more closely, read the titles, and you will often find, therein, the makings of a story.
Sometimes, that story is a monumental chapter in human history. “Middle Passage” (1970) seems, at first glance, a dazzling fusion of red, yellow and green. The title reveals it to be a homage to the many millions of men and women who were sold into slavery and forced to make the harrowing transatlantic crossing from Africa to the Americas. Faintly stencilled on the canvas are maps of Africa and the Americas and, at the very top, images of Bowling’s sons, Dan and Sacha.
100 PRINTS, 100 SCHOOLS
UNDERSTANDING FRANK (£6,000 +VAT)