Spirit Of Place

Taking place in the iconic Alexandra Palace, the Knitting & Stitching Show is the biggest textile event in the UK and features some of the top textile artists exhibiting their work. Textile designer John Allen's exhibition Spirit of Place will be on display at the Show. He talked to Jessica Edney about the story behind the exhibition.

John Allen wasn't always a textile designer. In his life, he has been pulled in several directions, including training as a Dental Technician, working as a coalman and joining the British Army for two years. At the age of twenty-seven, Allen decided textiles were for him and thus began over twenty-five years of printing, weaving, knitting and more. Allen studied at the Camberwell School of Art, to begin with, before doing his MA at the Royal College of Art. He is now a fellow of this prestigious College.

Allen's current exhibition, ‘Spirit of Place’ was inspired by his homeland. British landscapes, seascapes and city scenes all feature in a series of vibrant carpets - all of which come in a limited edition of just three. 

"Within each carpet, I have tried to put more of my emotion and personal responses to the subject, while at the same time I have occasionally discarded the actual colours as seen and replaced them with colours of the mood provoked in me on the day. Sometimes colours have been changed to evoke a physical emotion I experienced while observing and absorbing ‘The Place’. 

"While working on some designs I had flashes of long past visual memories, some of which I have introduced. Why are there two croquet hoops in the bluebell wood? It is not until I finish a number of the designs that I realise I have added objects that were not there. The reasons for adding them into a composition, are complex and very personal, but also visually interesting, and in obscure ways demand attention. Are they flash-back visual images of a place I have been? Are they incomplete memories, or are they simply the mind combining imaginary images giving me the feeling of the spirit of the place?"

See Spirit of Place at the Knitting & Stitching Show, 11 - 14 October 2018 at Alexandra Palace, London, UK.

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