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Imogen Lee Allen

Artist, Sculptor




"I am a 22-year-old (2023) painting graduate from Edinburgh College of Art. My practice explores the relationship between personal contexts and the viewer. I find creativity a necessary means to explore and understand emotions; introspection can be a cathartic tool for finding a starting narrative. I use personal photographs as references to paint ambiguous imagery which I combine with obstructed areas of text and poetry. By intentionally creating gaps in the stories of each work, I can mirror themes of reflection and memory which can manifest as confusing and incomplete. The narrative is deeply important to the work; through interpretation of these gaps, the viewer can insert themselves into the stories of the paintings, inventing their own timeline for each scene. The overall goal for my artwork is to provide a therapeutic platform to safely explore my own emotions, identity, and relationships whilst offering compositions that are connective and interpretive to an audience."

The title for this work was taken from an email sent to Imogen, from university staff, in her third year of studies at Edinburgh College of Art. During the pandemic, when the art school was closed, fellow coursemates organised an exhibition where artworks would be shown around ECA and surrounding areas. Imogen planned to exhibit three repurposed road signs that read:


“Loss of Civil Liberties Up Ahead”


“Access to Misinformation and Shite News”


”Diversity and Equality”


Whilst the signs were made in response to the increased powers of the police surrounding rights to protest, (Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act) Edinburgh University would not allow them to be displayed on the building. The University deemed the signs “too ambiguous as a strong set of statements that could be read as reflecting what goes on inside the building.” This made Imogen question the transformation of art schools since having joined with universities (ECA merged with Edinburgh University in 2011). Following these events, Imogen increasingly focused her artistic research on institutional critique. Her dissertation investigated the impacts of neoliberalism and how art education suffers when economic growth is projected as the dominant focus.


The work exhibited focuses on the conflicted relationship between artists and institutions, exploring identities of class and prevailing economic structures. It seeks to spark momentary crises of recognition, in turn opening up new sources of political and ethical agency. Exploring feelings of frustration, the metal assemblage investigates how social conditions and upbringing impact students' studies. It seeks to amalgamate various elements of Imogen’s practice and investigate institutional, environmental, and political systems. Exploring feelings of frustration surrounding Edinburgh University and further higher educational institutions, this work questions the weight of privately educated individuals and the increasing privileges of art education.


The physical form of the work is manifested as a reconfiguration of urban shapes, 

scaffolding and road works. The steel structure is intended to be walked through, a tunnel form representative of Imogen’s time at university. Elements are positioned inwards, inviting the viewer to enter the structure to view all elements clearly. The work incorporates various forms of materiality, highlighting Imogen’s interest in the interplay between the natural and the industrial. As an artist interested in ecology, Imogen aims to give abandoned objects a new lease of life, recognising how our mass production of things impacts environments and landscapes. The work incorporates various found objects: abandoned road signs, collected wood, moss, found metal as well as plasma-cut steel signs.


Imogen’s artistic research is constantly evolving, shaped by her own personal experiences which steer her work towards ever-changing routes: interpreting, deconstructing, and repurposing objects and ideas.

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