Backgroundcamel is the alias that Ben Gilchrist chooses to create their art under. The name is aptly taken from the name of the first band that Ben co-founded back in 2002, Camel Wrist, and is a tongue-in-cheek take on the literal background nature of being the band’s drummer.
Ben removes himself from the work he creates, inviting the viewer to take ownership and form their own interpretation. His intention is to create art that stands alone – exciting the senses. Although an advocate of the philosophy of art for art’s sake, he accepts the influences that his own morals and political viewpoints may have on his work. These are rarely apparent – often completely abstract in either image or title. He never pushes these themes on the viewer, merely leaving hidden clues for people to perhaps discover and ponder over themselves.
Backgroundcamel’s work tends to be bright, bold, geometric, and abstract. Simplifying a complicated world into flat shapes and brightening it up with the use of colour and contemporary materials; aspiring to bring a feeling of joy to the life of the viewer.
The artist prefers to make long-lasting work for public and private spaces, inspiring positivity in the people that occupy or pass through the space it inhabits. It is, of course, possible to bring the same joy to viewers in a gallery setting; however, exhibitions are not permanent, and he likens these opportunities to that of a musician’s tour, a fleeting interaction between artist and listener. Backgroundcamel prefers his work to have a more enduring home.
The abstract, geometric style of the work is heavily influenced by music, especially that of 8-bit/Chiptune. These are genres that use (or are influenced by) computer consoles to create their sound. The simple, unnatural beeping notes, together with the flashing bright lights and glow sticks that can often be seen at live performances, influence the bright, bold, undiluted, unnatural colours within Backgroundcamel’s artworks.
Backgroundcamel views the black lines in his works as the drumbeat of the piece - holding it together - and the colours reminiscent of notes that can be changed to create new compositions.
The title of each work is typically taken from lyrics of songs that were playing at the time the work was created.
Other influences include architecture (particularly Brutalism), stained glass, retro video games, and art movements such as Cubism, Pop Art, and De Stijl.
Based in the North East of England, Ben is a current MA Visual Art student at the University of Sunderland and a drummer in the instrumental Surf-Rock trio, The Milk Lizards.
Backgroundcamel fell in love with painting at a young age - encouraged by his parents with fine art backgrounds.
Experimenting with styles such as Cubism, Pop Art, Expressionism, and Abstract Expressionism at A-level (2003-2005) and college (2005-2006), the artist was always interested in using bight bold colours. Backgroundcamel developed their current style in Geometric Abstract art at university (2006-2009) while attempting to create work that visually represented the sounds of Chiptune music.
Using unnatural colours to capture the unnatural computer-like sounds, and geometric shapes to breakdown and rebuild an image (much like the retro computer games this style of music is influenced from uses pixels to represent a simpler version of an image).
Most designs are taken from images the artist has captured while travelling. Some designs come from the mind - either influenced by the surroundings of the location the work is designed for or purely from the artist's imagination.
Whichever way the image has been created, the artist sees the work as being made up of pieces - much like a puzzle. If the work has a specific meaning behind it, clues are left for the viewer to try and discover on their own - again, like a puzzle.
If you are interesting in an existing painting, please visit the shop.
If you are interested in a painting created for a specific area - such as a room in your home, a meeting room in an office building, or a waiting room in a business premisses - please do not hesitate to contact. All budgets can be discussed and catered for - with fully transparent costs.
Prior to the 2020 lockdown, Backgroundcamel would create work in sketchbooks using pencils, pens, and ink. Some of this work would be recreated digitally.
During the 2020 lockdown, Backgroundcamel had restricted space to create work. He decided to create designs digitally to save on space and create less work when it came to needing those designs in a digital format.
Although not the artist's favourite medium, digital software is extremely useful when it comes to creating designs without taking up space or causing mess. These digital designs are also very useful for creating screens for screen printing, making 'moving painting' versions of the design, constructing light boxes, and much more.
Most designs created digitally are intended to be created physically by the artist's hand at a later time. Not all designs come to a physical fruition, much like not all sketches in a sketchbook will be made into a painting.
Some digitally created designs are, however, designed to be just that - digital. The 'Glowing Edge' series, for example, have been designed using various digital effects to be displayed as digital pieces.
A goal of the artist is to create paintings that actually move by combing technology and craft skills.
This idea comes from Backgroundcamel's art being heavily influenced by music - which does not stay still.
The 'Moving Paintings' series is in the experimentation stage but will soon have at least one realised piece.
Watch this space...
Print is a very interesting subject to the artist.
Being able to make multiples of the same image is a fascination Backgroundcamel had as a child reading comics.
Print is also the oldest technology invented for recreating multiples quickly. This helped knowledge to be spread amongst the human race and helped propel our technological advances and society as whole.
Creating multiples of artwork can also make the work more affordable. Creating affordable work is a passion of the artist.
Backgroundcamel does use digital printing but prefers a hands on approach such as screen printing. Hand coloured digital prints is a happy medium when facilities for screen printing are not available.
Site-specific / Installation
Creating an artwork for a specific location is Backgroundcamel's preferred way of working. Using existing elements of features that surround the space the work is to be displayed in.
It is of great satisfaction to the artist when an artwork is given a 'home' - the more permanent the better.
If you have a space you feel could benefit from Backgroundcamel's work, please don't hesitate to contact for a free quotation. All budgets can be accommodated for. Full transparency on cost factors.
Creating temporary installations that viewers get fully submerged in is another passion of Backgroundcamel. Exciting all the senses and making it difficult to be distracted by anything else. A true experience that the artist compares to a live gig.
If you have a gallery or space you would like to see transformed into a fully immersive space for viewers, please don't hesitate to contact to discuss potential outcomes. Funding is the only limitation - imagination is limitless.
Bringing joy and inspiration to the viewer is in the forefront of Backgroundcamel's mind when creating work.
Having this work displayed outside of a gallery setting for passers by to experience is the best way to bring these qualities to as many people as possible. Backgroundcamel does not create art to be enjoyed by a select few. He wants as many people to experience it as possible.
North East England - born and raised.
Created in 1987 by Ruth and Danny Gilchrist.
Artist / Drummer / Mixologist
2005 - A Level Art & Design - Grade A
2006 - Diploma in Art & Design - Ungraded
2009 - BA Fine Art Degree - First Class Hons
2023 - MA Visual Practice Degree - Fine Art Pathway - Currently studying