Coronavirus: Artist hits out at abuse over Chinese heritage

By Dominic Howell
BBC News

  • Published
Frank ToImage source, Roksana Ulas Photography
Image caption,
Frank studied for a masters of art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, which is part of the University of Dundee

A Scottish artist with Chinese heritage says he has experienced racist abuse during the pandemic, with people shouting "coronavirus" at him.

Frank To told BBC Scotland's Drivetime the pandemic had "brought out a lot of resentment" and people were "pointing fingers towards China".

The 38-year-old says referring to the virus as Chinese, or branding it "the Wuhan flu", has racist connotations.

He says he sometimes retorts with "mad cow disease" to make a point.

Mr To, from Falkirk, says: "I'm actually getting a little bit annoyed at the fact that people are branding all Orientals as the carriers of the coronavirus. That is not true.

"I'm not a virus. I am a human being, and that's what I'd like to be referred to [as], not a virus."

Mr To said his family owned a takeaway on the south side of Glasgow and it had been affected by abuse linked to the pandemic.

Image source, Frank To
Image caption,
Frank To says millions of pounds were spent on drafting up and sending out these letters, which he says were effectively redundant as people were already aware of the message they contained

The artist has created work that claims the UK government letters sent out during the pandemic were effectively a waste of money and resources.

The letters cost about £5.7m to print and distribute to the UK's 66 million residents.

Mr To says that by the time people received the letters most had already applied the recommended measures such as social distancing and the government documents were immediately disregarded as "trash".

He said he wanted to depict animals and insects on the letters to make the point that the pandemic had inadvertently helped the world's eco-system.

"We now have almost zero pollution smog in India, dolphins are swimming in the canals of Venice, stags are now coming into people's gardens in Paisley," he said.

Image source, Frank To