Jessica Allen

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Artist Statement

In recent paintings the simplification of the object / subject has become increasingly more significant. The small empty boxes and paper bags embody paired down form, while at the same time they are a study of the inner spaces they contain. When more than one is placed on a surface, attention is drawn to the spaces beside and between.  By minimizing the complexity and detail of the object, space, inner and outer, becomes paramount.

Working in very thin layers of paint, these oil sketches could be compared to watercolours, with the white of the board beneath, shining through and bringing luminosity to the image. Using strong side lighting, they are as much about the presence of light and shadow, as the space and objects they convey. In these compositions, the coloured patches of shadow are of equal importance to the objects.

Looking at these variable arrangements of cubes on a neutral surface, I am often reminded of the abstract compositions of Sean Scully. And while remaining within the boundaries of making a convincing figurative image, I would hope to emulate his work, by drawing a link between figuration and abstraction. For me, Morandi’s quote ‘ nothing is more abstract than reality’ is increasingly pertinent .




                                                                                               The Beautiful Everyday


                                                                                               here is a space
                                                                                               again, the scone rising
                                                                                               to the tick of two clocks

                                                                                               And here is love
                                                                                               like a tinsmith's scoop
                                                                                               sunk past it's gleam
                                                                                               in the meal-bin.

These closing lines from Seamus Heaney's poem 'Sunlight' portray the timelessness of the everyday object. The tinsmith's scoop, a humble
utensil worn to a glean by constant use, an embodiment of love in a domestic setting. There is a comparable elevation of the everyday nature of
things in the still life paintings of Jessica Allen. These paintings contain everyday objects, which are portrayed on a neutral spatial plane. This is
a space that holds the object, and holds our attention, a space where the presence of the physical object and the presense of light have equal value.
It is a space where shadows are important. Time and place, the here and now, are constantly reasserted.
Cooking utensils, bags and boxes of various shapes and sizes, crumpled paper, fruit and vegetables, the stuff of domestic life, are all experienced
through an uncompromising vision. There is a worn purity to these images. Sometimes bags and boxes spill their contents across the table surface,
in other images the contents are hidden from view. Relationships between interior and exterior are explored. Objects often sit in the
middle of the composition, displacing the space around themselves, creating semi-abstract passages of tone and form. There is the potential
for allusion and metaphor in reading these images on 'another level', pieces of crumpled paper could suggest the fragility of life. But such
interpretations never really assert themselves. There is instead a refreshing commitment to the image, a repeated conviction and humility
that "this is what I see, and this is how I see it ".                                   
These paintings are direct and grounded. The paint surface is subtly layered with each return to the subject, the finished image an accumulation
of observation and reaction.
As the voices of the contemporary art world become increasingly tangled and impenetrable, I think we should remember the words of Cezanne.

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution."


Simon Allen 2017


Jessica Allen was born in 1966 in Dorset. Brought up in London, she did a Foundation, at Camberwell College of Art,  and then a fine Art Degree at Falmouth School of Art.

She has continued to live in Cornwall, with with her husband the sculptor, Simon Allen , where she has brough up her family . After a solo show at Badcocks Gallery in Newlyn in 2005, in which her painting explored collections of objects, in particular fashion items such as shoes, bags, and dresses, as well as butterflies and teapots, she had a number of images published by several Art Card companies, Artist’s Cards, The Art Group, and ArtCardsCornwall.

She has also exhibited at Newlyn Art Gallery, Millennium Gallery, (St Ives ),  Goldfish Gallery, (Penzance), Summerhouse Gallery, (Marazion), Tyler Gallery, (Mousehole), and Tregony Gallery,(The Roseland, Cornwall), as well as London College of Fashion, and Galerie Pelar (Long Island ).

Now her daughters have grown up, she has been able to concentrate on painting to a much greater extent. Recent work continues the still life genre, with a concentration on simple everyday objects. From books, and fruit and vegetables in paper bags, to tissue paper, empty shopping bags and boxes, she explores spaces within and without.

Although the pharmacy bags and medication could be viewed as contemporary ‘momenti mori ‘, an interest in form and space, and the mindful act of observation, primarily informs her creative process.

As Georgio de Chirico observed,  in Metaphysical Aesthetic 1919


An astronomy of things is established by the perfect knowledge of the space an object should occupy in a picture, of space that separates one object from another … the canons of the metaphysical aesthetic lie in the minute and precise use of surfaces and volumes.



Born 1966 , Bridport ,Dorset

1984-5 Foundation Camberwell School of Arts , London

1985-88 Fine Art Honours Degree, Falmouth School of Art , Falmouth


Joint Exhibition

Bridport Arts Centre 1990 , Dorset


Solo Exhibitions

Badcocks Gallery 2005 , Newlyn , Cornwall

London College of Fashion 2005


Mixed Exhibition

1996 Newlyn Society of Artists , Newlyn Gallery , Newlyn , Cornwall

2004 Galerie Pelar , Greenport, Long Island , USA

2006 Goldfish Gallery, Penzance , Cornwall,

2007 Galerie Pelar , Greenport , Long Island,  USA

2009 Millennium Gallery, St Ives, Cornwall  

2013  Summerhouse Gallery, Marazion, Cornwall  

2017 Tyler Gallery , Mousehole , Cornwall

2017 Tregony Gallery, Cornwall 

2018 Belgrave Gallery, Cornwall