Arts & Culture

Taking a stand … how explosives will help Frank make a point at Kelvingrove art fair

By Ian Marland at

Scottish artist Frank To is blowing open the debate on US gun violence.

The 36-year-old will be showing how at the Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair at Kelvingrove Gallery & Museum this weekend.

The Glasgow-born artist has turned to gunpowder to make a statement about the madness of gun crime in America.

Artist Frank To

Exhibiting: To will be showing at the Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair

To has borrowed from his Chinese heritage to work with gunpowder in a creative way.

He says: “In this new work, I’m turning the substance that is used to kill into a medium that can create.

“I am using gunpowder what it was originally invented for…to create life.

“Or in this case, making art work that is everlasting.

“I am hoping that they will be enough visually to get the attention of the people who can make a difference to the gun violence issues in the US.”

The artist – who was rejected by the Glasgow School of Art – has a growing international reputation as a leading contemporary painter.

He even boasts an A-list Hollywood star as one of his pupils.

Gunpowder paintings

Protest: To is using gunpowder in the way it was intended by its Chinese inventors

To has been tutoring the actor Patrick Stewart after the two met at Huddersfield University – where the artist studied and Yorkshire-born Stewart was vice-chancellor.

To’s latest medium is in response to the horrific death toll from guns in the US.

Mass shootings, many of them in schools, have shocked the world.

In February, seventeen people were killed and seventeen more were wounded after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Mass student demonstrations such as March for Our Lives have called for tighter gun controls.

But US President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association show no sign of bowing to pressure.

March for our Lives protests in the US

Peace: thousands of young people in the US demonstrated at gun violence earlier this year

To says his new gunpowder art is inspired by his Chinese cultural heritage.

A substance now known for its destructive capabilities was originally created by the Chinese to maintain life.

To says: “Gunpowder originally was created by Chinese alchemists in the 9th century as a substance for immortality.

“It was known as fire medicine. Once they knew its potential, it become the weapon to what we know of today.

“The current work is also a response to the recent gun violence in the US.

“I support March for Our Lives movement whole heartedly which calls for tighter gun control.

“As a pacifist, I feel compiled to respond to this.”


Venue: the fair takes place at Kelvingrove gallery and museum

The Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair was previously held at the Old Fruitmarket.

The fourth fair will take place at Kelvingrove on May 11, 12 and 13, featuring dozens of galleries, artists and print makers.

Prices for works will range from around £50 to more than £10,000.

Frank To will be represented by Gallery Q.

* For more information visit