“Jim Allen is an art practitioner, motivator and educator who has established pathways to new ways of thinking and doing in the visual arts in both NZ and Australia. Besides being an artist with a personal output both prolific and varied, Jim provided a context and circumstance for others to flourish in. His philosophy has always promoted creative freedom, intellectual enquiry, cooperation and humanism as fundamentals for a healthy, productive society."A quote from Phil Dadson , Arts Foundation Laureate and contributor to the book Skin of the Years about the life and work of Jim Allen.

Jim was born in Wellington in 1922. In 1945, after serving in the Second World War, Jim undertook art studies at Perugia University and Instituto d’Arte Florence, Italy. In 1948 Jim gained a Diploma of Fine Arts from Canterbury University and in 1951, he become an Associate of the Royal College of Art, London.

From 1953 to 1959 he worked in the NZ Department of Education as Field Officer to the Northern Maori Experimental Art Project followed by a position as Liaison Organiser to secondary schools. In 1960 he joined the staff at Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University as Associate Professor. His transformation of the sculpture department at the Elam School of Art occupies an almost legendary place in the history of contemporary art in New Zealand. In 1977-1987 he became Founding Head, School of Art, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.

 Poetry for Chainsaws at the Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide 1976.

In 1976 he was among the early exhibitors at the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide, South Australia. Since 2000, Allen (under Michael Lett) has since re-staged a number of early works, such as the  three-part Contact, (1974),  the two-part O-AR (1974), Poetry for Chainsaws (1976), News (1976), Planting a Native (1976), in Adelaide, Sydney, Auckland, New Plymouth and Wellington. More recent video works have been shown widely in America, Germany, France, Netherlands and Auckland.

His work is included in collections of the British Council; the Royal College of Art, London: Santa Barbara Art Gallery, California; Mildura Arts Centre, Mildura Australia; Osaka City Library, Osaka, Japan; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland; the Chartwell collection; Otago University, Otago: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.  

 

Video

2012
Video Courtesy of Te Papa: Jim Allen discusses his motivation for creating a 'complete sensory experience'.
2012
Video Courtesy of Te Papa: Jim Allen reads 'Thine own hands have fashioned'.

Galleries

2014
On Planting a Native at Michael Lett, 2014
2009
Hanging by a Thread II (detail), 2009
digital canvas print, photographic paper, bamboo, tell, hardwood, paper, hair, acrylic, paint, wound dressing, digital video on dvd, monitors
19762006
Poetry for Chainsaws, Experimental Art Foundation, 1976 and Michael Lett, 2006
1974
1922
Born Wellington, NZ
1940-45
WW1 Service, 2 NZEF 27th MG/INF. Battalison M.I.D
1945
Studied at Perugia University & Instituto d'Arte Florence, Italy
1948
Diploma of Fine Arts from Cantabury University, New Zealand
1949
Receives New Zealand National Travelling Scholarship in Art
1951
Is made an Associate of Royal College of Art, London, England
1952-56
Field Officer, Northern Maori Experimental Art Project. Department of Education, Wellington, NZ
1956-60
Liaison Officer, Department of Education, Auckland, NZ Stained Glass, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Havelock North, NZ
1960-62
Lecturer, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, NZ Stained glass, Stations of the Cross, Crucifix, Futuna CHapel, Wellington, NZ Crucifix, St. Andrew's Church, Papakura, Auckland, NZ Concrete and stained glass, leaded lights, Baldochino, St. John's Church, Te Awamutu, NZ
1963-68
Senior Lecturer, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, NZ Sculpture for Pakaranga Town Centre, Auckland Concrete Mural for ICI House, Wellington, NZ Bronze Statue Wairaka and kinetic water sculpture, Whakatane, NZ Timber and steel mural for Logan Park Motel. Auckland, NZ.  Concrete mural, Otago Univeristy, Dunedin, NZ
1969-76
Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, NZ Sculpture for Palmerston North Teachers College Stainless Steel sculpture for 'Expo 70 Osaka, Japan Aluminium Doors, aluminium and wood mural, Air New Zealand House, Auckland, NZ. Common Wealth Games sculpture, Queen Elizabeth Park, Christchurch, NZ Jaduran bronze sculpture, Fiji Contributor to the Antipodean Twig of the Scratch Orchestra Performance of Contact at Auckland City Art Gallery Pavilion 'K' performance works at Auckland Showgrounds
1976
Artist in Residence, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, South Australia News, Poetry for Chainsaws, The Elastic sided Boot, On Planting Native, Sending and Receiving and Newspeak performed at Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide There are always Elephants to be made Drunk, Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of NSW, Australia
1977-87
Founding Head, School of Art, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, Australia
1992
Autopsy with Linda Earler and Sergio Areliano, a performance with three players
2000
Installed as fifth Fellow, Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools
2006
Poetry for Chainsaws, Michael Lett, Auckland, NZ
2010-11
Contact, performed at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; Adam Art Gallery, Wellington; Artspace, Auckland
2012
The Skin of Years, performed at Michael Lett, Auckland, NZ
2013
Contact, performed at Michael Lett, Auckland, NZ
2014
News, Michael Lett, Auckland, NZ
2015
Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award

Awards