Marking 70 years since the artist’s arrival in London
The Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Arts (CIRCA) is presenting ‘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.
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.’
‘The moment I arrived in London, I knew I was home…’—Sir Frank Bowling OBE RA
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 color, 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 color:
‘The subject of my art is paint—the way that color washes, spreads, bleeds, and the way that paint-color 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.
‘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,’ says Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor of Culture and the Creative Industries. ‘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 the 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.
‘For 40 years, Black Cultural Archives has been the home of Black British history,’ comments Lisa Anderson, Managing Director, Black Cultural Archives. ‘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.’
May – June Program ‘Arrival’ by Frank Bowling is on view 4 May – 30 June 2023 at Piccadilly Lights, London, with a special extended screening on 4 May and 22 June.
20:23 GMT ➳ London, Piccadilly Lights 20:23 CET ➳ Berlin, Limes, Kurfürstendamm 20:23 CET ➳ Milan, Cadorna Square, EssilorLuxottica 20:23 KST ➳ Seoul, COEX K-Pop Square 20:23 PST ➳ Los Angeles, Courtyard Marriott LA Live 20:23 JST ➳ Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing
CIRCA has collaborated with Sir Frank Bowling to develop a series of prints which will be sold in support of charitable initiatives and the #CIRCAECONOMY—a circular model that funds the CIRCA free public art programme and creates life-changing opportunities for the wider creative community. Discover more here.
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