Grangemouth-born art star ‘succeeded despite major life problems’

Frank pictured at the sell-out show in London.
Frank pictured at the sell-out show in London.
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A successful artist from Grangemouth whose work has just sold out at a prestige London show says his achievements follow years of negativity and abuse.

Frank To (37) was one of just seven Scottish artists whose work was selected from 1,800 entries for the Royal Society of British Artists exhibition, and his art wins high praise at home and abroad.

Frank, left, as a page boy at Sacred Heart back in 1989.

Frank, left, as a page boy at Sacred Heart back in 1989.

But he says he faced daunting problems in his younger life, including racism and major family issues, which he had to work hard to overcome before he could realise his dream career.

“As I come from a traditional Chinese family background, mentioning any personal issues was a sign of weakness”, he says.

“Even my decision to study art at a low-ranked English university at the time was not supported.

“Achieving major accomplishments such as obtaining an unconditional offer for a Master of Fine Art made some accuse me of lying, due to their lack of belief in me.”

He says his experience makes him hope his accomplishments may inspire some other young person who shares similar ambitions - and who may be suffering the same kind of ridicule.

Frank’s work, involving the innovative use of gunpowder as a textural art medium, was on show earlier this month with that of fellow Scottish artists Georgina Bown, Joyce W Cairns, Deborah Cruden, Jim Fogarty, Jenny Handley and Teresa Hunyadi.

In recent years he has exhibited alongside some of the greats of the international art scene, including Banksy, Jimmy Choo and Antony Gormley, and his work has featured in several national art fairs and shows in Bath, Harrogate, London, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

He says of his latest exhibition success: “I never really expected the gunpowder and explosive black powder series to be this successful.

“All I ever wanted was to show the importance of technical craft, such as drawing and painting, being integrated into

contemporary art.

“Drawing in some major art schools today is disregarded and I want to highlight that I myself trained traditionally, and still value these skills and hard graft.”

Frank’s Grangemouth upbringing is several decades in the past, but he has never lost touch with the area.

Born in 1982 in Falkirk Royal Infirmary he lived with his family in Grangemouth and went to Sacred Heart Primary School.

In adult life he worked as an art therapist assistant at Dunrowan Day Hospital as part of his university course, and in 2013 he was sponsored by RBS Falkirk to appear in a major art exhibition in Edinburgh.