IT’S not every day that you get to present a celebrity with a picture you’ve painted of them but one man who is making a bit of a habit of it is Berwick’s Chris Caput.
The talented artist works at The Maltings and as well as carrying out DIY around the Eastern Lane theatre; designing stage backdrops for shows like The Maltings Youth Theatre’s ‘His Dark Materials’ and breathing a new lease of life into its Stage Door Bar, he has produced portraits of two of the biggest names to appear in Berwick this year - Michael McIntyre and Kevin Bridges.
Not bad for someone who had only ever seen their performances on Youtube!
Chris has been living in Berwick since 2008 after moving to the town from his native Philippines and he wasted no time in making his presence felt; firstly being employed by the Kings Arms Hotel to carry out repairs and renovations and then The Maltings after approaching former Chief Executive Dr Miles Gregory.
And he’s never looked back since- the cloudscape ceiling he created for the bar is a major talking point for both audience members and performers and the same can definitely be said for his portraits of Michael and Kevin, the response to which has left him somewhat overwhelmed.
“I’m finding it all a bit strange now that people know who I am because of the paintings; it’s very surreal,” he told ‘Life’.
“I felt inspired to paint both Michael and Kevin because of the excitement their performances generated in the town.
“They gave us a lot of passion when they performed here so it was only right that we did something for them.
“I was shocked when I found out they were coming to The Maltings, you just don’t expect people like that, who are on television regularly, to be in Berwick but we’re getting quite used to it now!
“Having only been in the country a few years I hadn’t seen too many of their performances but I watched a few of them on Youtube and I was very impressed.”
Typically artists who paint portraits do them while the person is sitting in front of them but Chris said having to work from what he’d seen on posters and performance clips alone wasn’t too much of an ask.
“Like a lot of comedians both Kevin and Michael have distinctive features so that was a good starting point,” he continued.
“Michael is known for having a lot of energy and moving around a lot on stage- I’ve seen his forward rolls- and I wanted to capture that in the photo.
“Kevin is different as he doesn’t move around half as much but still has a lot of stage presence.
“As well as capturing their personalities I wanted to make sure the paintings were connected to The Maltings so I painted MIchael with the interior of the main house theatre and Kevin outside the building.”
Once he’d brushed the last stroke on the portraits the next nervewracking step for Chris was to present them to the men themselves.
First up was Mr McIntyre when he performed two sell out shows in May and although Chris didn’t get to meet the record breaking funnyman and former ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ judge, he got a message of thanks that left him with a big smile on his face.
“He said he was really, really pleased with the picture which I was of course glad about. I can’t say I was actually that nervous about them seeing the portraits, I was more excited.”
One comedian down, next up was Kevin, a young Scottish comedian whose star has been rapidly rising in the last few years but Chris said there were no signs of the 25-year-old’s success going to his head.
Recalling the time he spent with him, Chris said: “He was a great man to meet; a really cool guy. He told me he loved the picture and I spoke to him for quite a while.
“He said he’d been to the Philippines before so we spoke about that and we also watched a bit of football - the Euro 2012 semi final was on so we watched a bit of that.
“It was just like talking to a friend; he was really laid back and very friendly.”
Although at present it’s Chris’ portraits which are gaining him quite a following - he even has a Facebook page dedicated to his work - he is actually a trained architect, a job which saw him apart from his wife for three years after she moved to Berwick to work in a care home.
“I’ve been painting since I was six years old but my father was really keen for me to become an architect so that’s what I did a degree in at university.
“That took four years to complete and then after I finished I worked for a number of different companies in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Qatar.
“I was travelling all the time and my wife was working over here so I didn’t actually see her at all for three years.
“Eventually I decided I just had to move here so I did. I still do work for the company in Qatar- they send me a floor plan every month and I put my ideas to it then send it back but it’s great to have more time now to spend on my painting.
“Berwick is a great place for an artist to live; there’s a lot to paint. I think some people don’t fully appreciate their surroundings here but as an outsider I absolutely love it. I was the same with my home town in the Philippines. That was a popular place for tourists whereas I just saw it as home.”
Chris said he is “extremely grateful” to The Maltings for giving him a break and he hopes the theatre will present him with more artistic opportunities in the next few years.
And should ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ ever visit these parts there’s one celebrity firmly at the top of Chris’ portrait ‘to do list’.
“I’d love to do one of Simon Cowell - he’d be a really good portrait to do. Not sure he’ll ever be in Berwick though!”