Felicity Allen / Lecture

14/10/2014
“Begin Again – Creating a Dis-oeuvre”

As a specialist in a wide variety of disciplines, including drawing, photography, installation, writing and painting, Allen appeared to be quite nervous of the size of theatre and number of attendees in the lecture, which I can’t blame her for as I credit everyone for solely having the ability to talk about their work in front of a crowd.

As she began the lecture, in my opinion, it seemed to be quite a disconnected talk but as the lecture progressed you could hear and see her passion coming through for her work.  The lecture was based around one of her projects; ‘Begin Again’, a collection of portraits in which the sitters were family, friends, past co-workers and other artists, Allen firstly painted her daughters and then began to invite people and past colleagues during her non-art time to be her sitters and she painted them, recorded interviews with them that were quoted along the art pieces, which then developed into a bigger project; ‘Begin Again’

(a selection of portraits from Felicity Allen's 'Begin Again')
(a selection of portraits from Felicity Allen’s ‘Begin Again’ – watercolour on paper, scale unknown-July 2009)

The portraits in my opinion have a feature that stands out such as the eyes, the colours used then fade out into the background and other pieces are mostly all pale and faint in colour with one striking area of bold colour.

At the age of 15, Allen had a keen interest in the ‘revolutionary phase’ and then in college she became very passionate about feminism.  As well as being very influenced by racism and sexism, all are quite controversial topics with strong opinions to them. Her very strong feelings towards feminism, stemmed from the fact that ‘Picasso’ was the artist of her time and the art world was very male based, making it really difficult for herself as a female artist, so this idea of powerful women such as herself and other female artists began here, which she make apparent throughout the lecture .

(a single portrait from the 'Begin Again' series - this piece really shows how faint the portraits are and how delicate the colours and tones in the skin resound in the background of the piece)
(a single portrait from the ‘Begin Again’ series – this piece really shows how faint the portraits are and how delicate the colours and tones in the skin resound in the background of the piece – watercolour on paper-scale unknown-July 2009)

Allen then began to read a piece on ‘being a parent’ by Mary Kelly and then continued to read a piece by Bridget Riley expressing the love of a mother, through a difficult time. Allen then continued to talk about Ziauddin Sardar (a Muslim critic) although not relating to her art work she mentioned that they had both failed academically and had been segregated at school, but now had both succeeded in their own fields, so she felt a connection. She then mentioned powerful women who influenced here such as Virginia Woolf and Adrianne Rich – my opinion of Allen is that she is clearly influenced by very strong and powerful women relating back to her feminism and college roots.

I believe Allen was influenced by art when she mentioned that at 16, she took up a mundane job in an office, which was above an art gallery, clearly absorbing the art around her.  She also mentioned at this age she realised she had a passion and talent in writing, which she began at the age of 12.

(a single portrait from the 'Begin Again' series, along with quoted caption)
(a single portrait from the ‘Begin Again’ series, along with quoted caption from the audio recorded interview – watercolour on paper-scale unknown-July 2009)

From what Allen spoke about and in my own opinion I feel her portraits and works are drawn with anger due to her life’s struggles but she compensates for this with the feint and delicate colours which stem from her intimacy with painting, reflecting her love of having a child. Overall, a lecture that began with Felicity Allen being quite hesitant to talk about her work and life but as the lecture progressed, her passion which is clear in her art work, really came through in the lecture, a really great talk with a lot of inspiring and powerful work.

 

http://felicityallen.co.uk/

 

//Images from –

top image -http://www.turnercontemporary.org/media/images/645/Banner%2026%2011%2014%20copy%20USE-cropped.jpg

middle image – http://felicityallen.co.uk/art/begin-again

above image – http://felicityallen.co.uk/art/begin-again

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