Chris Angell is a self-taught artist working in North Norfolk in the East of England, at the Barrington Farm centre. He has attended this centre since 2001. Never afraid to experiment, Chris is confident in a variety of materials and techniques, though he works predominantly in pastels or acrylic with pens in subdued colours on paper or board. In recent works he has been experimenting with layering bright, water-based Posca pens on top of his paintings, giving his work a new vibrant energy.
His interests and subject matter are wide ranging and varied, and often comment on popular culture or current events, with a surrealist edge. His work is bold and expressive, and often portrays his favourite themes such as landscapes and famous historical figures. Portraiture is a major source of inspiration for Chris, and he uses live models, printed material and his own imagination to create atmospheric drawings of people.
Chris’ work has been exhibited locally in Open Studios events, and in various exhibitions across the county.
Budi Agung Kuswara
Budi Agung Kuswara (Kabul) is a Balinese contemporary artist based in his native island of Bali. He views material as a living character and is not limited to objects or subjects within his work. Budi explores different historical techniques to bring about different atmospheres in his paintings, for example he uses a cyanotype technique onto stretched canvas which is a technique he has developed over many years. In the last nine years, he has been questioning the function of art beyond the object of beauty, leading him to several social art experiments with local communities. Negotiation of existence, appreciation and equality that are inclusive of the surrounding social environment are his biggest concerns.
In 2013, Budi founded the Ketemu Project – a visual art collective focused on social engagement through art. As one of the programs of Ketemu, Budi initiated the Schizofriends Art Movement, dedicated to supporting people living with schizophrenia through group art expression and professional development opportunities.
Their Artwork Beforehand
Although Chris and Budi both feature portraits within their work, they both have quite different styles and favoured material choices. Chris likes to try out new things constantly, but likes coming back to oil pastels and Posca pens, with portraiture being a key focus. Budi was charmed by Orientalism and how exotic images led to supposed attitudes and ideas of Bali by westerners. So in 2013 he started using an old printing technique to experiment with, and explore his ideas about cultural identity, while creating new inroads in Balinese contemporary art. Many of his works are cyanotype prints, with hand painted finishes on top.
The first meeting online involved each artist sharing about their art practice, sharing some artworks, and sharing about where they live and their different cultures. Chris had been doing his research on Indonesia and was asking lots of questions about the weather and different animals he had seen online that live there, including crocodiles.
Chris became fascinated by Budi’s cyanotype work, and we all felt it would be good if Chris could learn this technique to see how it works, and the different levels of complexity with it. Barrington Farm got in local artist Kate Munro to run a cyanotype workshop on site, that Chris, alongside several of his artist peers, could get involved in. He loved the process, with Budi saying to Chris over zoom, “The interesting part of the cyanotype process is the relationship with the sun. You really are connected to the sun. The sun you use to make your print is the same sun that I use to make mine.” Due to the chemicals involved, this is not something Barrington Farm could regularly use as an art technique, but Chris and others really enjoyed learning about it all. Chris did continue to use it for several of his artworks that feature across this collaboration.
Each week, Chris and Budi set each other different projects to work on, or a brief to work on a particular theme. Much of it ended up with the artist exploring the other artists’ way of working, and use of colour and form. Both artists were really inspired by how the other worked – Chris liked how Budi layered up his cyanotypes with colour and other collaged imagery on top, and Budi was fascinated in how Chris articulated his thoughts through drawing and painting, and also how loose he was when he worked. Both tried to implement the others’ working processes into their own throughout.
Chris was so inspired, he also made many other artworks that he wanted to share, with several of these below.
When asked if they could tell Jennifer about the artworks made during the collaboration, the answers were:
Chris: Budi’s work inspired me to do fruit, flowers, eyes, crocodiles and snakes. I like to call it a brain explosion and very surreal. I never used to colour my pictures properly, but now I do. This project has inspired me to do more and beyond. I’ve increased my thinking time.
Budi: I have created some sketches based on Chris’ interest, trying to talk about personal identity. Then it went broader to topics related to the situation of war, so some of these works are my interpretation of some sketches that Chris made like warships, submarines and aeroplanes.
In the first week after meeting online, Chris wanted to try and create works in a style similar to that he had seen of Budi’s, so the first two works showcase the blue of the cyanotype’s alongside the layering of other images like Budi had shared. Chris then took part in a cyanotype workshop, and over several weeks played around with adding colour onto the cyanotype’s, which again is a process Budi often uses. The last three images here, are drawings on acetate that Chris did and emailed to Budi, so that Budi could incoporate some of Chris’ imagery into his own work – an example of this can be seen below, with the boats.
Budi’s first work as part of this Peer to Peer collaboration, was a cyanotype portrait featuring his face as the main focal point. After chatting with Chris he wanted to try and be more free with his work, so decided to include other drawings around his face with a much freer line than how he would normally work, and layering things in a new way inspired by Chris. Above you can see two details from the larger portrait piece. For the second task, he tried a different medium altogether and printed a portrait cyanotype onto a canvas bag, again trying to be more loose with his lines. Each artist then sent acetate drawings to each other, for the other to feature in their work. Budi played around with simple colours on his, inspired from looking at Chris’ work, and he sent Chris a detailed drawing to take bits from, based on their conversations of nature and crocodiles and things found in Indonesia. Budi said he has learnt to put his expressions into his work more, and to be more spontaneous with his mark making and compositions.
Chris is a profilic artist and he was very active outside of the zooms. Here is a selection of artwork created during the collaboration, with many of the artworks inspired by his conversations with Budi, and things he was seeing in Budi’s works, like vases.
Final Collaborative Artworks
The left image is Chris’ initial cyanotype print, that was posted to Indonesia and Budi painted into the white square that was left around the face. Chris said he wanted to include Egyptian hieroglyphics, their names, Buddy Holly, and kites that were inspired by conversations with Budi. The flower head people painted by Budi were people in a state of bloom, and they are people happily expressing themselves. The right image is a cyanotype printed by Budi, and he also added some of the colour on the flowers in the vase. Once Chris received this in the UK, he decided to add his artwork around the bottom area of the picture, as he was scared to ruin it, since he thought it was so beautiful. He added sunflowers with surreal faces in them, and crocodiles, which comes from their conversations about animals in Indonesia.
Art et al. co-founder Jennifer Gilbert chats to Chris and Budi at the end of the project to gain some insights into how they think it all went, and what they learnt. One thing both artists raised was although it was lovely to connect with an artist in another country online and how easy that all was, how nice it would have been to meet the other person in real life … food for thought for the future!
Jennifer: Once asked, what drew you to wanting to take part in this collaboration?
Chris: It seemed interesting to meet another person and I met this really skilfull man, Budi. His work is amazing.
Budi: I wanted to explore new possibilities working with people from different cultural and social backgrounds.
“My favourite part of the collaboration was meeting Budi, Jennifer and Sidhi online, and making them laugh!” – Chris
Jennifer: Has anything been a real surprise for you during the collaboration?
Chris: The work that Budi’s doing. That inspired me to do the crocodile. All the work I made.
Budi: The results on how Chris did his cyanotype print with his sketches and the use of his childhood portrait.
Jennifer: What are you hoping audiences get from seeing your work?
Chris: They might think it’s amazing or a bit out of proportion (in a good way), and [it is about] stretching your mind to the limit.
“Hopefully the audience can see our collaboration artwork is about equality, we inspired each other regardless of our physical and mental situations. Everyone will experience disability, especially for those who live long. So our collaboration art is about celebrating life.” – Budi
Jennifer: If you could describe the other artists work in three words, what would you say?
Chris: Precise, definite, love.
Budi: Fun, expressive, humble.
Jennifer: For others potentially doing the peer-to-peer collaborations in the future, what would be your advice to them?
Chris: When you do the project and put [things] down on paper, it should be from the heart. Focus is key. Never ever copy other people’s work. Love what you do. When you’re doing a picture, you use your head as a direct tool, and you use your pen away from you. I persevered with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if people opened me up and they might find some interesting stuff, like a brain power!
Budi: Being yourself is about understanding your peers.
Jennifer: Anything final you’d like to add?
Budi: I am really glad to be part of this program.
“My confidence is massive. It’s brought me out of my shell. I’d like to meet Budi in real life and do another project or stay in touch. I love the Indonesian culture. He’s inspired me.” – Chris
This collaboration forms part of the year long Art et al. X Ketemu project, funded by the British Council’s International Collaboration Grants.
Images Copyright: Budi Agung Kuswara, Chris Angell and Barrington Farm, and Art et al.