Upcoming Events

Frank Bowling: The Mother’s House Paintings

Research Seminar – Grace Aneiza Ali, Ben Bowling

  • 7 February 2024
  • 5:00 – 7:00 pm
  • A Paul Mellon Centre Research Seminar by Grace Aneiza Ali, Curator, Assistant Professor, College of Fine Arts, FSU.
  • Paul Mellon Centre and Online

How can a house reflect migration’s arcs, its losses and gains? It is this quest for reconciliation that draws curator and scholar Grace Aneiza Ali into the “mother’s house paintings” by Guyanese-born British artist Sir Frank Bowling OBE RA (b. British Guiana, 1934). These early paintings in the artist’s oeuvre became informally regarded as the Mother’s House Paintings (1966 to 1971) as they are characterised by a singular architectural motif: a 1953 photograph of the house in which he grew up and often returned to with his family – his mother’s house (Mrs Agatha Elizabeth Bowling) – in New Amsterdam, Guyana. Notably, the black-and-white photograph itself of the three-storey clapboard colonial house was taken in 1953, Coronation Day of Queen Elizabeth II and the year Bowling, at nineteen years old, left the then colony of British Guiana for London. Throughout the series of paintings, Bowling’s varied artistic treatments renders the house as central, as silhouetted, as ghostly, as background, as foreground, as faint, as volatile, as looming, as inescapable, as fragile, as formidable. In this talk, Ali will expand on her research of these paintings, trace their scholarly and curatorial visibility, and offer the ways in which they speak to the grieved and ungrieved losses of migration.

As part of the lecture, Ben Bowling, Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at King's College London and son of Sir Frank Bowling will join Ali in conversation.

Image credit: Installation view, Un|Fixed Homeland, Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, New Jersey, 2016, curated by Grace Aneiza Ali. Clockwise from left: Frank Bowling, Mother’s House with Beware of the Dog. 1966. Acrylic and silk-screened ink on canvas. Courtesy of the artist; Bowling’s Variety Store, Main Street, New Amsterdam, British Guiana, 1953. Used with permission from the Frank Bowling Archive. Photo: Argenis Apolinario

About the speakers

  • Guyanese-born Grace Aneiza Ali is a curator and assistant professor in the Department of Art and the Department of Art History’s Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies Program at the College of Fine Arts, Florida State University (FSU). As a curator-scholar of contemporary art of the Global South, her curatorial research practice examines the conceptual links and slippages at the nexus of art and migration. Ali specialises in art of the Caribbean Diaspora with particular attention to her homeland Guyana. Her book, Liminal Spaces: Migration and Women of the Guyanese Diaspora explores the art and migration narratives of women of Guyanese heritage. Ali serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the College Art Associations’ Art Journal Open.

  • Ben Bowling is Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at King's College London. His books – Violent Racism, Policing the Caribbean, Global Policing and The Politics of the Police – examine police accountability in the local, national and transnational spheres. He has been visiting professor at the University of the West Indies, Humboldt and the University of Cambridge. He has been adviser to the UK Parliament, European Commission, Interpol and the United Nations and is a founding member of the charity, StopWatch. Ben is also Frank Bowling’s middle son and, with his brother Sacha Bowling, co-directs his father’s studio. They work together with galleries, museums, and art historians to safeguard his father’s artistic legacy and to enable him to make the critically acclaimed work that is at the heart of his painting practice.