Falkirk artist and activist Frank To sells out his COVID letter artwork

Award winning Falkirk-born contemporary artist and social activist, Frank To, has sold out his UK Government COVID-19 letter work at this year’s prestigious Royal West of England Academy annual exhibition.

By Allan Crow
Monday, 21st December 2020, 3:48 pm
COVID-19 letter artwork by Frank To, social activist and Falkirk-born artist
COVID-19 letter artwork by Frank To, social activist and Falkirk-born artist

It is a rare achievement as the academy is temporary closed due to lockdown.

Frank was the only Scottish artist to be accepted by the academy and has been shortlisted for the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity Artist Prize.

Sent in April to all households across Britain to urge them to heed the Government's coronavirus guidance, the letter was delivered to 30 million homes, reaching all 66 million residents in Britain as part of the Government’s public information campaign at a cost of £5.7 million.

Frank To, social activist and Falkirk-born artist

Frank’s piece, titled ‘Spring 2020’, features a bumble bee drawn with charcoal and gunpowder on the infamous letter to the nation.

“I view this piece as a way to combine my art with my social activism,” said To. “For me, these letters highlighted the incompetence of the government in its handling of the pandemic.

“This was important to me because it is about taking a stance against the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s statement about the need for artists to retrain.

“That statement highlights the hypocrisy of the Government. These letters cost almost £6m of taxpayers money and were a waste of money because most people chucked them straight in the bin; the information was already available online and no account was made for the visually impaired.

“To have actually sold out during this difficult time and to be shortlisted for an award highlights the importance and my contribution to Scottish art. It just shows that there is strong resilience in the arts of Scotland especially during a global pandemic.”

Frank was recently appointed sole UK official artist ambassador for NGO IM Swedish Development Partner to create a new paint colour using Humanium Metal powder and to use A Good Humanium Metal pen to create artwork to be sold to raise funds for projects supporting survivors and violence-prevention programmes.

The Humanium Pen was made by the Swedish social impact startup, A Good Company, in collaboration with IM Swedish Development Partner to make the pen possible.

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.