"Swimming in cold water taught me how healthy it is to give yourself a sensual shock"

Imogen Allen

Artist

London, UK


How do you want people to feel ?


Like they are jumping into the ocean perhaps. I grew up in Cornwall, UK and loved swimming in the Atlantic from a young age! Swimming in cold water taught me how healthy it is to give yourself a sensual shock, how re adjusting and cleansing it can be, and how much instantly submerging yourself in another temperature can bring you back into your body at what feels like a cellular level. Perhaps since then, i’ve been trying to replicate the experiential quality of moments such as these with painting. I want my work to not just be a temperature shift in the viewers vision, but in the imagination of their whole body. I want those who experience my paintings and drawings to feel like they’ve instantly jumped from one world into another. Just like the coldness of the water I felt swimming, I want the work to demand immersive attention, to pull people in through its boldness, just like that instant shiver of aliveness you get as you take the plunge. Yet once in, I’d like to think the viewer could stay for a while, adjust and relax, find themselves weightless, as if floating and held by this mass weight and support of liquid colour. I’d like to think people could swim around for a while, discover new sensations in the water, in the paint, and discover new ways of being in a space.


There was always an afterglow affect from swimming, perhaps as important as the experience itself. A feeling of cleansing, a feeling that one had felt the beautiful elemental rawness of the world beyond your body. A feeling that the fluidity of your body had bridged for one moment into the fluidity of the world. I’d love to produce an afterglow in my viewers, i’m not saying I think it can in any way ever match these natural experiences but that is what I measure it up against. Mainly as a form of devotion to them, mainly as a desire to replicate this feeling of connectedness i have felt and want others to tap into.


I have discovered that freedom seems to manifest its distinct character more profoundly when balanced out with it’s counter part, discipline.

What are your feelings about freedom?


I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom of late. Painting really does make me feel free. I mean in reality you can literally paint anything, you are your own boss and really you just keep coming face to face with a literal blank canvas. But what happens when that degree of freedom can make you feel trapped, I have discovered there is such thing as an overwhelming feeling of possibility. I have discovered that freedom seems to manifest its distinct character more profoundly when balanced out with it’s counter part, discipline. Previously I have approached painting by feeling and intuition alone, without putting in place many rules or boundaries, but in this mode I found decision making was constant and the degree at which I therefore felt in a state of flow was compromised. Starting a series of works based on Lichen however, has helped me reintroduce a discipline, through having a very clear subject. Lichen is providing at the moment for me, a coat hanger for expression, it is the necessary structure for exploring colour and mark making, to sensitise and explore infinity within paint. I’m thinking about structure and discipline in a bodily way, as humans we have physiological structures , the skeleton the veins etc, these all hold and direct, channel the fluidity of the blood. If painting can teach us and can mirror the human experience, it needs the skeleton to it’s blood. It feels natural that i’m encountering this desire for structure, which at the moment i’m using my subject matter as this channel. This spring, lichen appears to be pointing and directing me, like the needle to my painterly thread.


https://www.imogenallenartist.co.uk

IG: @imogen_allen_