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RCA alumnus Frank Bowling OBE RA awarded a Knighthood

RCA alumnus Frank Bowling OBE RA (MA Painting, 1962) has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his services to Art.

Hailed as one of the finest British artists of his generation, the abstract expressionist artist said he was ‘extremely proud’ to be made a Knight at the age of 86. 

Born in British Guiana in 1934, Sir Frank arrived in London in 1953. He graduated from the RCA, alongside David Hockney and Derek Boshier, with the silver medal for painting in 1962. By the early 1960s he was recognised as an original force in London’s art scene with a style combining figurative, symbolic and abstract elements. In 2005 he became the first black British artist elected as a Royal Academician and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2008 for services to Art.

In a statement on Instagram, Sir Frank said ‘Trained in the English art school tradition, my identity as a British artist has always been crucial to me and I have viewed London as my home since arriving in 1953 from what was then British Guiana. To be recognised for my contribution to British painting and art history with a knighthood makes me extremely proud.’

Professor Ken Neil, Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities said, ‘The RCA had the pleasure of awarding Frank an Honorary Degree earlier this year, with Frank's son Professor Ben Bowling attending to collect and join the celebrations. Frank won a scholarship to study at the RCA, graduating in 1962, and his work then and since is hugely expressive of his determined view that he had license to go anywhere with his painterly aesthetic, and without neglecting his personal histories. The force of his abstract work and the insights into his Guyanese background were great to see in the Tate Britain show in 2019, and we are very very proud of his achievements.’

Other RCA alumni to receive awards in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List included: Erdem Morliouglu (MA Fashion, 2003), awarded a Member of the British Empire for services to Fashion; Jasper Morrison (MDes Furniture Design, 1985), awarded a Commander of the British Empire for services to Design; and Matthew Burrows (MA Painting, 1995), awarded a Member of the British Empire for services to the Arts during the Covid-19 response.