This article about yours truly recently appeared in the Feb issue of Taipei's Centered magazine.
Here's the complete article written by Lee Mooney.
Smooth As Silk
Should he require quick inspiration from his surroundings, local artist Tim Budden need only look out his studio window, from which he enjoys an enviable view of
“[Originally] I wasn’t interested in Chinese art at all,” Budden says, from his studio in the
Artistic failure was something Budden had never experienced in his native
Succumbing to youthful wanderlust, Budden arrived in
Paper cutting has existed in
A gift of silk from a friend and a request that he create something out of it not only reinvigorated his newfound passion for his art but took it into a completely new direction – elemental silk cuts. “What I like about the silk,” Budden explains, “is its quality, its iridescent sheen, and its traditional phoenix pattern with its movement, vibrancy, and energy. Silk is also very strong. One of the problems with paper is that it disintegrates very easily,” he adds. Silk, because of its durability, is often used in the mounting of Chinese scroll paintings. Only such a strong material would hold up to the constant rolling and unrolling of the scrolls.
Budden typically spends about 30 hours on a silk cutting piece. After selecting the silk from a local shop, he draws a section of the entire pattern on tracing paper. Then, using colored pencils, he draws the entire design on silk. Since he usually does several versions of the same piece, underneath the top layer of silk are other pieces of varying colors. “The more colors you have, the more difficult,” he says of the process that then involves the painstaking step of cutting the design into pieces with a sharp scalpel, which are then mounted onto board prior to framing. To his knowledge, silk has never before been used in the traditional art of paper cutting.
During his initial foray into silk cutting, manic outbursts of creative energy and output led Budden to an important realization: he’d have to think more about the process so that images wouldn’t fall to pieces from careless design. “When these non-masters [ladies from
As he’s grown more comfortable working with silk cuts, Budden has begun to incorporate more familiar imagery. “There is certain imagery that goes through all my work – clouds, ether, steam – have been in my work since my days in the
Though he has never spent time in rural
A common theme in the traditional paper cuts and paintings of
Budden’s son Adam has influenced much of his father’s work that incorporates this theme of idealized innocence, most notably in Dancing Boys, a celebration of youthful male insouciance, described in one review as “child-like creatures full of sinuous anarchic energy that reaches every corner of their bodies. Veins, muscle and bone are hinted at – all beautifully patterned and flowing – pulsing with a vibrant energy as they experience the world around them.”
While his son Adam was the model for the image in Dancing Boys, it is the artist’s embrace of the youthful narrative theme that propels the spirit of the work. “I’ve used the image of the child in my work a lot,” he says. “Taoist thought is that childhood represents the ideal state because the child approaches everything very innocently. And the reason I use these dancing, happy-go-lucky, slightly naughty children is because they absorb what’s around them and they seem untouched by that and they can see it in an innocent light.” Though Budden is quick to embrace any ideology that upsets the order of a strict hierarchical or patriarchal system, he eschews politics in his work at present. This is consistent with the spirit of innocence he conveys in Dancing Boys. “I like that state of innocence. I think that’s partly the way I’ve tried to stay myself in
Being an expat himself, Budden is especially sensitive to how the local surroundings provide symbols for the narratives in the lives of other foreigners who have called
An environment that in the past was bereft of artistic inspiration for Budden now at least provides him with enough stimulation to add local color to the silk cut narratives he creates for his clients. With his art again at the center of his life, he enjoys a contentment that once seemed almost unattainable. Owing, perhaps, to his British reserve, he tempers his enthusiasm with some sobering realizations. “Now the worrying thing is that I don’t fit a stereotype. I’m the wrong age. I’ve just started trying to produce my art. I’m in my 40s. I’m the wrong race. Now the big thing is the Chinese market. If you’re a mainland Chinese artist, you get 20 extra points. But if you’re a British artist who’s living in
Each silk cut Budden produces is testament that he has indeed found the cultural links that are necessary for him to create the art he wants in
Any lingering cultural conflict that Budden may still experience now fuels rather than frustrates his art work. As he says about the images that are prominent in his silk cuts, “Organic forms are very much a part of my work … because they refer to an energy that’s within all of us. We’re in a constant state of turmoil, I think, and it’s a positive energy. It’s how you use that energy. To try and capture that energy in a positive way is how the whole art form for me evolved.”