The mysterious and intriguing series of ‘Rookery’ photographs sets the mind wondering whilst the ‘Wytham’ series offers a clue in the title. Interpreting the work gives the sensation of looking at a Kandinsky painting where an emotional response is provoked in the viewer along with an innate awareness of what the subject of the piece is, whilst all that is being stared at is a pared down group of symbols and shapes. This is clever stuff, and in Allen’s statement regarding his work he is very much involved with the science behind how visual stimulus is processed in the brain.
But back to these big fiery colour blocks emanating from the large photographs such as the ‘Esta Noche’ series found in the nucleus of O3; they reflect a lot of the lights that have shone in this Oxford Castle site since its opening, including the eerie theatrical Garden of Gethsemene lit in the exercise yard earlier this summer for the Passion show and the foliage flanking the castle driveway sprinkled with dangling lights ready for the party season. Halloween gives a timely reference to the dark side and the soul of Saxon King Edmund Ironside, allegedly murdered here in 1016, who is said to have startled two passers-by when, a few years ago, they found light shining from an archaeologists’ pit where the courtyard outside O3 is now. Whatever the subjects are that Allen is inspired to capture he’s not telling, as in the illusive ‘The Poetry of Seeing’, but seeing is definitely believing.