Meet the Artist - Guy Allen
Norfolk born Guy Allen is an accomplished draftsman and printmaker who enjoys international success with his remarkable portfolio of original prints, which have a focus on equine subjects, wildlife, and the natural world.
His sought-after work (exhibited publicly in Dubai, New York, and London, and in private collections in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong) has earned him much deserved recognition and a number of prizes, including one of his etchings which was selected to be exhibited in the prestigious Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London in 2013 and 2014, and the Diana Brooks Prize at the Mall Galleries in 2018.
We have recently added a number of new pieces to his collection on our online gallery, including powerful pieces from his eye-catching 'moon series', which he was inspired to create during the first lockdown in 2020; during which he recalls a friend telling him that "Mother Nature has sent us to our bedroom to have a think".
Holed-up in his Norfolk studio with his wire-haired dachshund, Loaf, Guy found familiarity, intrigue, and a unifying symbol in the moon during those uncertain times. "Away from the pressure of daily routine and commitments I had time and space(...)I suddenly had an opportunity to create a totally new piece of work. The Moon became my subject(...)Wherever we are in the world, we're all looking at the same moon."
This lockdown period proved inspirational for Guy, and his moon series allowed him to explore and expand upon familiar and practised techniques and present his work in a different way. The series is notable for its shift in subject matter and use of differing paper and ink colour from his usual pieces and has served to fuel his passion for printmaking even further.
The talented young British artist first discovered his passion for print making during a trip to Paris at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, where he discovered the printing press and became especially drawn to the traditional etching process.
The pivotal trip to Paris took place during his time studying at world-renowned arts and design college Central Saint Martins School of Art in London, from which he graduated in 2011, and he says that "finding an art form that lent itself so perfectly to [his] artistic aspirations was a revelation".
This long-established engraving process now forms the basis of Guy's work and involves using an etching needle to draw a design onto a metal plate (usually steel, copper or zinc) which has been coated with an acid-resistant layer of wax or varnish, known as 'ground'. The plate is then immersed in acid, which eats away at the metal areas which have been exposed by the etching needle and forms recesses, which will later hold ink during the printing process referred to as 'intaglio'. During this corroding step the desired tonal effect of the eventual print can be refined by prolonging or lessening the amount of time that the metal plate (or parts of the plate) is exposed to the acid. For example, darker printed lines can be achieved by longer exposure to the acid, by causing deeper and wider recesses which hold more ink.
Guy continued to explore his fascination and develop his skills by training as an assistant print maker under Mary Dalton and Stanley Jones at fine art lithographic print publishers Curwen Studios in Cambridge. Here he swiftly learnt how to master many other types of print making, including aquatint, screen print and lithography.
Today his passion, dedication and experience is clear to see in his exciting work, which combines traditional techniques with an experimental approach and timeless subject matter to produce pieces which sit perfectly at home within contemporary and classic settings alike.
'South End of a North Bound Horse' is a striking example, merging a realistic equine depiction, with Bauhaus style elements and palette, and dazzling gold leaf embellishment (it is also one of his favourite pieces). Of it he says "[it] has always been one of my favourite artworks from my portfolio. It explores many aspects, including movement, an abstracted element, gold leaf and
finally a smashing title."
‘Grazing Horse Study’ is another prominent piece, from his most recent additions to our portfolio, which was influenced by the tradition of sculptors forming a smaller maquette study before creating the eventual large scale piece. He says "I liked the idea of this and thought I could adapt the concept to creating my large scale etchings. From making a study piece, this gives me a lot more confidence when it comes to creating the large scale version."
Guy painstakingly illustrates all creatures, great and small; from fearsome charging bulls and mighty brown bears to delicate butterflies and humble bumblebees, and much of his creative inspiration stems from the rural Norfolk county in which he was born.
‘Ladybird’ from the latest collection is a detailed yet elegantly simplistic depiction of those much-admired spotted insects. Featuring a circular design, the etching has been hand embellished with 24 carat gold leaf, is reminiscent of vintage botanical-style illustrations, yet has an experimental twist which gives it a fresh contemporary feel.
As well as furthering his own artistic endeavours, Guy also likes to assist charitable organisations such as Art for Youth, Art for Cure, and Marie Curie UK each year as part of his philanthropic efforts.
This month, Guy is due to open his new studio and gallery and looks forward to a number of upcoming exhibitions in the year ahead.
If this has whet your appetite, head over to Guy's collection on our online gallery to browse and buy from his outstanding portfolio of pieces made using time-honoured techniques with a modern flourish.