Trevor Allen: Maker of striking, vivid prints

The printmaker Trevor Allen claimed that there were two major influences upon his work: traditional Japanese printmakers like Kunisada and Utamaro, and the childhood world of the Dandy and Beano and Hergé's Adventures of Tintin. What the images in both prints and comics have in common is a strong outer line and vivid areas of colour. From this improbable combination Allen produced during his career a great number of intelligent, well-made, and extremely striking works of art.

Allen was born in Portsmouth in 1939, as Trevor Abbott. His mother left his father, a seaman, and remarried. He adopted his stepfather's surname, Allen, and only became close to his paternal relations late in life, changing his name to Trevor Allen Abbott a few years before his death. The new family moved several times before coming to London, where Allen was sent to the junior school of art in Camberwell: he claimed afterwards that all he had picked up from the school was a knowledge of old roses and some art history.

After national service in the Royal Anglian Regiment – spent partly in Libya – he studied from 1960 to 1964 at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. During these years he worked with Michael Rothenstein at his studio in Great Bardfield, Essex, where there was a significant artistic community. He was also a studio printer with Editions Alecto, a pioneering print publisher which had been set up in a former factory for non-alcoholic communion wine in Kelso Place in Kensington. Later he worked with the Academician Philip Sutton on his Tahitian blocks.

In 1964 Allen set up a print studio for himself in Balham. By now he had begun teaching at various colleges of art, including Brighton, Ravensbourne in Kent, Bradford and Ipswich, but from 1971 onwards taught full-time at Goldsmiths College in south London. After a year-long sabbatical from 1985 to 1986, during which he made work for a one-man exhibition at the Thumb Gallery, he resumed teaching part-time until his retirement in 1996. Allen was a fine teacher, able to bring out students' individuality and help them with their original ideas.

Allen wrote of his own work: "Relief printing is the best means I have found to express my ideas." He enjoyed the processes of the development of a print, and most of all the cutting of the block and the final colour printing. During his classes he carried out experiments with his students in caustic soda etching onto linoleum. His imagery was highly varied and semi-abstract; his late, experimental screen-prints of flowers – so inspired by the clarity of Japanese print and childhood books – are perhaps his most beautiful.

Allen had several one-man exhibitions: at the London Graphic Arts Associates in Bond Street in London and the Serpentine Gallery in London (1969); the Thumb Gallery (1979, 1982, 1986); Fakenham Arts Festival and Belstead House, Ipswich (1991). The many group exhibitions in which he participated included the Print Biennales at Fredrikstad in Norway and Krakow in Poland; the International Print Exhibition in Milan; the Brighton Festival; the ICA Gallery; and an exhibition, Three Decades of Artists from the London Art Schools, at the Royal Academy.

Some very mildly risqué etchings sent to the US were briefly impounded by the authorities because they had the misfortune to travel at the same time as some more shocking pictures by John Lennon. Examples of Allen's work can be found in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, Sheffield City Art Gallery, Northampton Art Gallery and Goldsmiths College, as well as in a number of education authorities. In 1965 Allen was elected to the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers. He also contributed to a book, The Complete Printmaker, and to a BBC series Artists in Print in 1981.

Allen spent hours drawing every day. In contrast to his deeply felt, vivid prints, into which he seemed to pour his all sensitivity, he was a moody and intensely shy and private man, who could, as his wife once put it, "get lost if he turned around". On his retirement he and his wife moved from Suffolk to Somerset.

Simon Fenwick

Trevor Abbott (Trevor Allen), artist and teacher: born Portsmouth 15 February 1939; married 1962 Christine Pleace (one daughter); died Yeovil, Somerset 24 February 2008.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
people
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

SCO Supervisor Electrical

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client based in the Midlands is looki...

Ecommerce Executive

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Ecommerce Executive Working with an...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply teaching - A great w...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices