Artist Sir Frank Bowling To Sell Signed Prints To Buy Art Supplies For 100 Schools

One of Britain’s most celebrated abstract painters, Sir Frank Bowling, is selling signed prints of his work to help buy art supplies for 100 schools in England. His goal is to inspire young people to embrace their creativity in a time where art programs are having their budgets constantly cut.

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Sir Frank Bowling is currently one of Britain’s most celebrated artists. He’s known for his abstract work, and is now embarking on a new project to help inspire the next generation of artists throughout England. Bowling will be selling signed prints of his work to raise money for art supplies that he’s hoping to provide for 100 primary schools.

Like many school districts in the US, England has experienced major budget cuts in their various art programs from the government. Bowling is hoping to combat these cuts and remind kids to stay inspired, embrace their creativity, and have the knowledge that art is never off limits. 

Bowling is hoping that this venture will be a “game changer” in art education. Proceeds from the sales of his 100 signed prints will be used to fund “art packages” which will include supplies like canvas, paint, and a six-lesson curriculum. The goal is to help around 30,000 schoolchildren. 

Ben Bowling, Frank’s son, helped organize the project, and is hoping to raise £500,000 ($535,240). Ben told the media that the goal of this project is to “widen access in the most direct and immediate sense.”

“Bridging that gap and enabling children of all ages, irrespective of their family background or their means, to have access to art education and material is the goal.”

In England, art education programs and incentives are being cut by the government, especially in state schools. According to the Guardian, art spending per student has been falling by about 10% since 2009. 

Many art educators throughout England have been vocal with their criticism of the government’s cuts and lack of funding for the arts. In a study performed by the Fabian Society in 2019, researchers found that 68% of primary school teachers in England think there’s less arts education now than compared to a decade ago. 

The idea for this project from Sir Frank and Ben Bowling initially came about when Ben began to be invited to schools in London to visit students who were using his work as inspiration for a project. The ambition and creativity that the two of them witnessed inspired them to do something to spread that joy and make it easier for kids to embrace their creativity.

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“[The main] ambition is for this to be a gamechanger in the way that children are introduced to fine art so they’re introduced to canvas, to the pleasure and the possibilities of paint and the idea that they can make art.”

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Frank Bowling is 89-years-old and moved to Britain from Guyana in 1953. He’s mainly known for his large-scale abstract “map” paintings which he started creating in the late 1960s. His work came out at a time where pop art was truly taking over. To keep up with the movement happening in art, he moved to New York. In fact, he didn’t gain a lot of recognition in the UK until recently. 

In 2019, The Tate Britain museum in London held a major retrospective dedicated to Bowling and his decades of creation. After the retrospective’s success, Bowling was viewed as “a shunned giant of British art.” 

“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,” Frank stated.

The hand-signed prints being sold for this initiative are titled ‘Understanding Frank,” and are from his abstract map painting collection from the 1980’s specifically. 

“One of the paradoxes here is that when you get to university level, Royal College of Art, Courtauld, Slade, Central Saint Martins – these are world-class institutions but art schools in England have become the preserve of the elite, there has been a massive shift,” Ben explained.  The project is also a collaboration with the Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Arts.