Angelina Bong is a Malaysian poet, writer and visual artist with a background in Fashion.
As a young child, she loves to read and draw girls in different characters donning clothes with various designs. Books became her best friends and she started writing for fun. She won a writing competition at the age of 9 for a local newspaper and attempted to write several short stories on her own. At 6, she was chosen to do a dance performance for her school and since then, her love for the stage began. She won a storytelling competition amongst her peers in primary school and eventually represented them against other schools.
In high school, she was an all rounder; from arts to sports and academics. Winning first runner up for a choral speaking competition sparked her interest for lingual and literary arts, leading her to join a story writing contest in which she bagged third prize. Script writing and performances in plays, singing, cultural dances for her clubs, state and country multiplied besides her appointment as the artist for her school magazine.
Although encouraged by many to pursue sciences due to her good results in academics, she forged on to get a scholarship in studying fashion. Her designs were always conceptual with stories woven into each artistic piece. She discovered painting as a form of fashion illustration for the first time and fell in love with it.
Working in the fashion industry upon graduating, she realises that fashion go hand in hand with business. A full scholarship enabled her to have her BA with Hons in Business Management. Meanwhile, she started expressing herself through poetry in blogs and stumbled upon Webook which served as a platform to develop her poetry writing.
She represented her country at the 3rd Delphic Games 2009 in the Lingual Arts category (Poetry Recital) competition held in Jeju Island, South Korea. Her recited poem was published in the 2009 Poem Festival Book.
Since then, her poetry and storytelling have ventured both locally and abroad. Some notable international performances and readings were for a musical play in conjunction with International Women’s Day 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa; International Storytelling Festival 2014, Pretoria, South Africa; Maun International Arts Festival 2014, Botswana; Perth Poetry Festival 2015, Australia; Loose Muse, London’s Premiere Women’s Writer’s Night ,Oct 2015, UK; Kritya International Poetry Festival 2016 in India where some of her poems translated into Malayalam language were presented and special guest poet performance at Fellowship Friday organized by FAWWA (The Fellowship of Australian Writers WA), April 2016.
She has been published in Whisperings in the Wind poetry anthology for Kritya Poetry Festival 2016, The Poets Without Limits Poetry Magazine, Po-me Poetry and Po-me Poetry II 2008 collections, Kritya Poetry Journal, Risen Scepter, World Arts Convention 2014 coffee table booklet, Many Stories Matter literary e-journal, Image Curve, Fibrotoday, Living with Fibro, Pursesuit, OurDailyPoetry, and MISSIOCOM.
Angelina never stops painting since college. Her artworks are inspired by her life experiences, past fashion career, travels, people she meets and her own spiritual discoveries. She mostly uses acrylic and mixed media in her paintings. Black and white pen illustrations are also one of her favourites, utilising lines and patterns to invent forms. Her exploration of life observations and vivid imaginations are thrown into semi-abstract, semi-surrealistic and contemporary visionary expressions. Her stimulated sub-consciousness is very apparent in the strokes and colours of each piece.
Her artworks have been on display during events, exhibitions and community projects including collaborative mural painting on heritage site in Kuching 2015 and Perth Poetry Festival 2015. She was the secretary for World Arts Convention 2014 held in December, hosting Malaysia’s biggest 3D Mural Art and was shortlisted as a finalist in Petronas Annual Art Competition 2015. As a member of Sarawak Artist Society, her most recent exhibitions were in conjunction with COP21 Climate Change UN Conference 2015 sponsored by the French Embassy both in Kuching and Alliance Francaise, Kuala Lumpur.
She sells her artworks online and by commissions. Some of her artworks now reside in the homes of random clients, families and friends from across the globe including Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, India, Venezuela, United States and Spain.
Angelina hopes to encourage people to celebrate diversity through her writing and arts. She chirps on Twitter and Instagram by her penname @swakgel.
Fig 1: The Evolving Twirl - Shortlisted at Petronas Annual Competition 2015, Acrylic on Canvas
The sun as background; a divine power enforces it to emit energy, giving life and light depicted by twirling strokes and flames to humankind who constantly evolve like the black figures. Lastly, the emerald blue green flames symbolize the sea where oil and gas are drilled, influencing the world’s economy
Fig 2: Bumi Kenyalang's Future, Acrylic on Canvas
Exhibited at Sarawak Artist Society “Caring for Sarawak our Common Home” Exhibition at Alliance Francaise de Kuala Lumpur, December 2015 – in conjunction with COP21, Climate Change Conference in Paris. The left side shows lush greens, blue skies and clouds with a symbolic bird that is of unknown origin, perhaps a new species due to climate change bearing Borneo’s tree of life motifs. The right side shows the hornbill’s wings shattering into pieces, its bottom cracks into lines as the background shows a single dead tree. Which is land of the hornbill’s future: lush blossom or simply shatters? (Sold to a client in Singapore)
Fig 3: On Eagle’s Wings, Mixed media on Canvas (Acrylic and Hand-stitched beadwork with lace)
"And He will raise you up on eagle's wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand" – quoting Michael Joncas. Sold to raise funds for charity in Cambodia
Fig 4: Souls of Nature, A collaboration Triptych: Expressive calligraphy by Belgian/French Calligrapher Jean-jacques Sanglier and poem by A. Bong.
Exhibited at Sarawak Artist Society “Caring for Sarawak our Common Home” Exhibition at Alliance Francaise de Kuala Lumpur, December 2015 – in conjunction with COP21, Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Left: Mama’s old days, dip toes in rivers, clear. Green parties, coconut trees. Cool. I recall childhood, hands small, hunt ladybirds, scoop tadpoles, shrubs as play field.
Center: Now I see hazy hues, landslides, earthquakes, rainforests die. Flood. Graves galore, fruits of heatstroke. Trap indoors. Fresh air only a fantasy
Right: Our children may never feel sand on fingers, no butterflies lift curious eyes. Souls of nature scarred. I hope. Now.
Fig 5: Your Tease Poem.