Our Article Writer, Natalia Podpora, attended the opening for Richard Allen’s exhibition ‘Surfaces’. Here’s what she had to say…

A full time illustrator, part time painter and one of his kind: Richard Allen’s exhibition ‘Surfaces’ opened for viewing in the Poole Lighthouse’s gallery on a wonderful Friday evening last week. Richard is a visiting tutor on the BA Illustration course here at AUB.
The turnout of the private viewing was great. Spectators were really taking their time looking at the paintings, many parts of which become more intricate the closer and longer you look. Thoughts and contemplations were flowing amidst the sipping of glasses of wine, or was that just me?

The pieces exhibited ranged from cliff landscapes to the paradoxical imagery of geometric wasteland sites, with natural horizons in the background. Another feature was paintings of postcards Richard had found on his travels.
You may have heard the name Richard Allen before; his claim to fame of winning the 2016 Sky Arts ‘Landscape Artist of the Year’ in November resulted in being undertaken for a number of commissions for the National Trust. A great achievement to say the least!
When speaking to him it is clear that he is very humble about his talent and achievements, which are numerous.

As to his process, he stated that he often begins with quick, ‘’on the spot’’ sketches which he then builds up using charcoal and, subsequently, paint. He appreciates using what he describes as ‘’edgy layers’’ which add some structure and sharpness to the paintings- as can be noticed when looking up close. You can see the layers of paint, almost a landscape in their own respect, on the surface of the canvas.
He describes a main inspiration as the idea of being ‘’one step removed’’ from the visage he is interpreting with paint, like when you’re driving through a landscape but only get to take in a snapshot of the scenery before it disappears. He tries to describe this feeling in his paintings of paintings, removing the audience from the immediacy of viewing a landscape. This feeling is also expressed successfully in his postcard portrayals, which blur the real scenes with something fabricated and detached from nature.
You can check out his work at http://richard-allen.com

The Lighthouse exhibition in Poole is open to the public until the 2nd of December.

Words by Natalia Podpora, Photographs by Alice Clarke