Press release: Frank Bowling, Arrival
CIRCA PRESENTS FIRST DIGITAL ARTWORK BY
FRANK BOWLING MARKING 70 YEARS SINCE HIS
ARRIVAL IN LONDON
4 MAY – 30 JUNE, CIRCA 20:23
(Piccadilly Circus, London) 27 April, CIRCA 20:23 ➳ The Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Arts (CIRCA) is proud to present Arrival – the first digital artwork by modern master Sir Frank Bowling. Celebrating the 70-year anniversary of his arrival in London from British Guiana (now Guyana) in May 1953, the exhibition runs from 4 May until 30 June and coincides with The Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and the 75th anniversary of Windrush, respectively.
Reflecting on his arrival in London Sir Frank Bowling OBE RA, said ➳ “The moment I arrived in London, I knew I was home.. My uncle met me at Waterloo, and we travelled by Tube to Finchley Road. I wasn’t even listening to what he was saying, I was looking round. It was summertime, and the whole of London town was still into the Coronation. And I went all over London – even up past Piccadilly Circus – travelling on the buses, on the train. It was amazing.”
One of the world’s greatest living abstract painters, Frank Bowling has spent the last six decades of his career dedicated to the exploration of paint and colour, creating a powerful and original style that has influenced the art historical canon. Marking the first time that the artist’s work has been shown in a digital context, Arrival tells the story of his journey from British Guiana to the UK in 1953. Through crossfading two works from his iconic Map Paintings series – Texas Louise (1971) and Australia to Africa (1969-70) – Bowling has created his first digital canvas featuring a cascade of colour:
“The subject of my art is paint—the way that colour washes, spreads, bleeds, and the way that paint-colour emits light. After many decades working on canvas, it was a pleasure to collaborate with CIRCA in creating my first digital artwork. It shows two of my Map Paintings flowing together. It’s a whole world thing – 70 years in the making.”
Bowling travelled to the UK at the age of 19 in May 1953, arriving in London during the Coronation of the late Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June. The presentation of Arrival on London’s Piccadilly Lights coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Empire Windrush arriving on 22 June. The ship brought a large group of Caribbean people to the UK to help rebuild Britain after WWII, with thousands more following in the decades thereafter – a moment which shaped the social and cultural fabric of modern Britain.
Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor of Culture and the Creative Industries, said: “Sir Frank Bowling is a giant of British art, so it is fitting that his work will be featured at scale on Piccadilly Lights to mark 70 years since his arrival in London from Guyana. Immigration has played a central role in making London what it is today and we are immensely proud to be one of the most international cities on the planet, continuing to welcome people from around the world who now call London home.”
In light of the CIRCA 20:23 manifesto: ‘Hope: The Art of Reading What Is Not Yet Written’, Arrival provides a poignant opportunity for global audiences to reflect on the positive societal impact of migration, whilst the UK looks ahead and considers the nation it hopes to become.
Throughout the exhibition, CIRCA will amplify Black Cultural Archives – the home of Black British history which has dedicated over 40 years to celebrating the contributions of African and Caribbean people in the UK From 4 May until 10 June, audiences connected to the Windrush Generation will be invited to upload memories and photos documenting their stories of Arrival to the CIRCA.ART website. An edited film featuring a curated selection of public submissions will be presented on Piccadilly Lights, Thursday 22 June at 8pm, to coincide with Windrush Day celebrations. Discover more here.
Lisa Anderson, Managing Director, Black Cultural Archives, comments ➳ “For 40 years, Black Cultural Archives has been the home of Black British history. We are delighted to partner with CIRCA to honour, empower and give a platform to the memories of the Windrush Generation, and their families, on this 75th anniversary year. Similar to Sir Frank Bowling, their contributions helped to rebuild this nation and bring energy, culture and traditions that forged a new Britain.”
CIRCA collaborated with Sir Frank Bowling to develop a series of two timed limited-edition prints. Available from 4 May – 30 June, the never before released prints of Texas Louise (1971) and Australia to Africa (1969-70) will be sold in support of the #CIRCAECONOMY – a circular model that funds the CIRCA free public art programme and creates life-changing opportunities for the wider creative community. Available here.
NOTES TO EDITORS
MAY – JUNE PROGRAMME
Arrival by Frank Bowling
4 May – 30 June, CIRCA 20:23
20:23 GMT ➳ London, Piccadilly Lights, with a special extended screening on 4 May and 22 June
20:23 CET ➳ Berlin, Limes, Kurfürstendamm
20:23 CET ➳ Milan, Cadorna Square, EssilorLuxottica
20:23 KST ➳ Seoul, COEX K-Pop Square
20:23 JST ➳ Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing
20:23 PST ➳ Los Angeles, StandardVision
ABOUT SIR FRANK BOWLING OBE RA
Born in Guyana (then British Guiana) in 1934, Sir Frank Bowling OBE RA arrived in London in 1953, graduating from the Royal College of Art with the silver medal for painting in 1962. By the early 1960s, he was recognised as an original force in London’s art scene with a style combining figurative, symbolic and abstract elements. After moving to New York in 1966, Bowling’s commitment to modernism meant he was increasingly focused on material, process and colour, so that by 1971 he had abandoned the use of figurative imagery. Bowling became a Royal Academician in 2005 and was awarded the OBE for services to Art in 2008 and a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2020. In 2022, he was awarded the Wolfgang Hahn Prize which honours exceptional contemporary artists. His work is represented in fifty collections worldwide and has been exhibited widely, including the 2017-19 touring exhibition Mappa Mundi, the hugely successful retrospective at Tate Britain in 2019 and the major solo presentation Frank Bowling’s Americas at MFA Boston in 2022, touring to SF MOMA in May 2023. Texas Louise (1971) by Frank Bowling is currently on view until 11 September at The Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection, Paris. (frankbowling.com)
ABOUT THE BLACK CULTURAL ARCHIVES
Black Cultural Archives’ mission is to collect, preserve, and celebrate the histories of people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK. We are a Black-led, Brixton-based, independent charity rooted in 40 years of educational activism. We are the nation’s home of Black British history and a beacon for Black communities at home and abroad. From heritage seekers to future leaders, schoolchildren and young people to academics and elders, we serve people who seek a deeper understanding of British and world history.
We promote the importance of historical reflection as a powerful tool to help society learn from the past and work towards a more racially just and equitable future for all. We do this by providing a welcoming, safe space for people to celebrate positive representations of themselves in history and culture. We are a hub for conversations that disrupt traditional thinking and ignite empowered ideas that promote social progress and positive change.
Our archives, collections and exhibitions tell stories of inspiration and resilience. Our eclectic range of objects, ephemera, rare historical documents, photographs, and oral history testimonies cared for in our Collection bring histories to life from the 2nd century to the present day. We are a leader in the heritage sector, preserving and making accessible untold histories. We champion workforce development, teaching across London schools and universities, and organise public gatherings to showcase the achievements and impact of the Black community in the UK and worldwide. (blackculturalarchives.org)
The Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Arts (CIRCA) is a digital art and culture platform with a purpose. Every evening at 20:23, CIRCA stops the clock across a global network of public screens and mobilises the world’s greatest creative minds to broadcast unique works of art that consider our world, circa now. Driven by purpose, funds generated from artist print sales enable the #CIRCAECONOMY – a circular model that supports the CIRCA free public art programme whilst also creating life-changing opportunities for a global creative community. Since launching in October 2020 on London’s Piccadilly Lights, CIRCA has distributed over £500,000 in cash grants, scholarships and donations.
Previous CIRCA commissioned artists include Ai Weiwei, Cauleen Smith, Eddie Peake, Anne Imhof, Patti Smith, Tony Cokes, Emma Talbot, Vivienne Westwood, Yoko Ono, Marina Abramović, James Barnor, David Hockney, Cassandra Press, Shirin Neshat, Frank Bowling and more. (www.circa.art)
CIRCA has been made possible by Landsec, landlord of Piccadilly Lights. We are especially grateful to our global screening partners Sogo Hong Kong, Limes OOH, EssilorLuxottica, Neo Shibuya TV, COEX K-Pop Square and Pendry Hotel West Hollywood for their support of our free public art programme.
CIRCA would especially like to thank Sir Frank Bowling OBE RA, his family, La Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection, the Mayor’s Office, Hauser & Wirth and the Black Cultural Archives for their unwavering trust and support of this historic commission.
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Twitter ➳ @bcaheritage | @circa__art
Facebook ➳ @FrankBowlingRA | @bcaheritage | @circa.art.fb
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To download the media pack, click here.
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