Extract from Matthew Higgs’ interview project. Printed in full in the Artists’s Book.

Mark Francis: You tend to work between two areas; the painting as an ‘object’ and painting as an ‘installation’ whereby you paint directly onto walls. Could you elaborate on this?

Tim Allen: I had been thinking about making wall paintings for quite a while before I actually made one. The very first one was done in the studio just so I could see what would happen. It wasn’t necessarily just to do with scale, I was also curious to see what would happen when the ‘painting’ came off the canvas, when it began to directly engage with its surrounding architecture. And in many ways this goes right back to a time when I was making the diamond grid paintings, which directly related to rhythm and music. At the time it seemed very important to me that the work didn’t operate solely in terms of ‘image’. I was trying to create an ‘arena’, a ‘situation’, a visual situation where people could establish their own meaning. Rather than making the painting into a ‘window’ that you looked into - in the most obvious sense - I was trying to make the painting into something which projected out into the space and implicated the viewer in a direct, physical way. It’s still my belief that it is possible to have that degree of physical engagement with an easel painting as well as with a painted installation. I think that if a painting or an artwork just involves people on a physical level or conversely just on an intellectual level then there is obviously something missing.
Tim Allen’s large scale, abstract canvases use layers and marks of bright colour to evoke an element of flux in what we see. He creates an optical paradox between looking into and looking at the paintings. The exhibition at the Norwich Gallery is a collaboration with 30 Underwood Street Gallery, London. A new limited edition, hardback artist’s book is available at the special exhibition price of £12.00. It features an essay by the Guardian’s Art Critic Adrian Searle and an interview project by Matthew Higgs.

Tim Allen has taught at Norwich School of Art and Design since 1990. Matthew Higgs’ interview project tracks his involvement as a teacher with the current generation of young British artists.