Thanks to the breadth of his approach to textiles, John Allen has enjoyed an illustrious career, spanning over 35 years, as teacher, author, designer and curator. Leaving school without qualifications John trained as a dental technician and worked as a coal hawker for several years. Having completed his preparatory qualifications at night school John embarked on the National Diploma at Camberwell College with a focus on weaving. Following his studies at the Royal College of Art John set up the knitting department, and was made a Fellow of the RCA in recognition of his long term association with this post-graduate institution.
In 1989, John decided to concentrate on his work as a designer and, in collaboration with John Crane, produced print, weave and knit collections under the name 'Allen Crane Studio' for an international market. As author, John produced several books and contributed to numerous magazines. As curator John presented 'Slipstitch' at the James Hockey & Foyer Galleries. The exhibition celebrated groundbreaking technical developments in knitting and, with over 8,000 visitors, attracted one of the largest audiences in the exhibitions' programme.
'The Forbidden Kingdom', an exhibition of carpets for the wall and mixed media pictures reflects John's creative response to many travels through Nepal and the High Himalayas. The show has been inspired by Nepalese culture and landscape. Using wool grown in Tibet and transported over the Himalayas his designs, worked out in London, are collaboratively transformed into final works by native weavers. John's technical skills as a weaver have led to new techniques being adopted locally.
The ever changing tonality of colours and shades, combining clashing primary colours with subtle shades, is inspired by the landscape, season and majesty of imperial cities, while Western creative ideas contribute to the heady mix of influences. Inspiration is drawn from the strange mix of the sophisticated and the naive so often juxtaposed. Featuring figurative pieces and their slow abstraction the works show a creative sequence towards decorative and abstract conclusions. The exhibition showcases the progression of ideas and the subtle and respectful interpretation of the theme of the show.
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