Highlands & Islands

The Scottish artist using gunpowder to promote peace

Frank To working on one of his drawings Image copyright Frank To
Image caption Frank To sketching ideas for his drawings

A Scottish artist is using gunpowder in creating his artwork.

Falkirk-born, Inverness-based Frank To fires and infuses the powder onto metallic plates as part of the process in making his drawings.

His aim is to promote peace by using a "destructive element" to create depictions of life.

To is one of five Scottish artists selected for the Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, opening in October.

Fire Starter, To's image of a firefly, will be displayed at the exhibition.

Image copyright Frank To
Image caption Fire Starter will be exhibited in Belfast

He said: "I chose to work in gunpowder as it is a contemporary medium especially in the field of drawing which I specialise.

"Over time, working with the medium itself has become more than simply a use of an art material. It has become a symbol for peace.

"I create images of life or depiction of life with a destructive element. Initially in ancient China, gunpowder was originally invented as an elixir of eternal life."

The Inverness College UHI art lecturer has also been working with Swedish social and economic inclusion organisation Individuell Människohjälp (IM).

Part of IM's work involves melting down seized illegal weapons to make an new alloy it calls Humanium.

The metal is then made available in powder form for the making of new products such as wrist watches.

Image copyright Frank To
Image caption To fires and infuses the gunpowder onto metallic plates

To, who has been helping to draw attention in Scotland to IM's work, said he was looking at a further possible further collaboration with the organisation.

The artist said: "I'm hoping to use Humanium in combining it with gunpowder to create unusual and unique effects.

"Furthermore, I also envision to use the powder in oil painting; actually grinding it down in a traditional paste like the Old Masters."

Image copyright Frank To
Image caption Frank To has also been promoting the work of IM, which melts down seized illegal weapons to create new, harmless products