Chrys Allen's professional practice as a visual artist incorporates her interest in walking, drawing, printmaking, participatory arts and education. In addition to an active resume of arts residencies and exhibitions Chrys values the opportunity to be involved with ambitious Community Projects. As an Associate lecturer Chrys continues to enjoy working at Rose Bruford Theatre College, Kent and has regularly worked at other universities and art schools in London and across UK and is a Fellow of HEA. Chrys is on the board of Directors of Ignite Futures, a UK based organisation promoting creativity in learning.
Koli Environmental Arts festival. 2013-15
A three year programme of environmental arts has brought together international artists sharing an interest in the landscape and the environment.
As part of the 2014 Environmental Arts Festival Chrys devised a series of mappings that acknowledged the importance of being lost (in the moment).‘You are Here’ suggests that whilst drawings and walking may commence with a plan, the importance of taking an unfamiliar path, meandering, or even becoming lost, may bring greater value than our intended journey. The completed ‘maps’ were placed within the vicinity of the existing signage in the National Park and served as a reminder that whilst we may wish to know where we are, perhaps our imaginations should be allowed to wander.
Inspired by notions of history, tradition and ancient narrative prevalent within Koli National Park Chrys created ‘Lost Maps' (2015). These drawings and participatory projects referenced the ancient beneath the contemporary interest in walking as a personal exploration.
“Unelmien metsä” (The Forest of Dreams) was created with pupils of Kolin School: An inspired mix of imagination and observation the map articulates a special insight into Koli along with the spirit of adventure, mystery and discovery that maps hold.
These maps were also placed alongside the signage within the National Park to encourage walkers to wonder as they wander.
Arts Residencies in North Karelia Finland
(Kolin Ryynänen & Niskaranta, Pankakoski)
A series of month long residencies 2005-12.
The Kolin Ryynänen studio and apartment being situated on the edge of the Koli National Park and Niskaranta being at the edge of Reposuo Nature Reserve they were the perfect location and opportunity to experience the visual impact and spiritual mood of iconic Finnish scenery; being immersed in the landscape and immersed in creating new artwork simultaneously. Walking and drawing became interdependent, imagination merging with observation. The rhythm of the landscape became familiar but the detail continued to surprise and confuse. The ambiguity of certain views and brief glimpses of detail would be incorporated into the artwork would be in sympathy with the experience of walking; being engulfed by the environment, feeling both remote and connected.
The intensity of the residencies have continued to have a profound influence on Chrys art practice so much so that Chrys and Simon now own a cottage with studio and workshop in Koli and have become increasingly involved with the arts community and activities of Koli.
Placing Memories and Memory Playground
A collaborative research project involving fellow members of staff/ creative practitioners at Rose Bruford College: Ben Ratcliff (lighting/theatre designer ) Oliver Brennen (sound artist/engineer) and Chrys Allen (visual artist). An art-science ‘madeleine moment’ experience piloted by Chrys as an Ignite Futures science busking activity at The Barbican's programme “Wonder” (neuroscience event) and then the Latitude festival 2013.
‘The Memory Playground’ events at Rose Bruford Symposiums have enabled participants to take their own ‘madeleine moment’ (prompted by one of a selection of bottled scents) into a series of (individually themed) immersive chambers of light and sound with a view to researching how the change in environment impacts on the recollection/narrative of a memory. An opportunity to further the project as part of Symposium 2015 ‘Offstage, Onstage and Beyond”: Exploring imaginative, actual and virtual spaces and Symposium 2016 ‘In? Out? Shake It All About!’: Exploring notions of diversity and inclusivity, has facilitated research into the possibility of how the ‘The Memory Playground’ experience may develop the capacity to be creative while continuing to address and articulate an interest in the dynamics of space and narrative.
A desktop version of the project was launched at Nottingham’s Science and Curiosity Festival 2016 and will be developed further as an outreach/ citizen science workshop.
Charting the Future (as part of Derwent Pulse)
Derwent Pulse is Derbyshire’s longest ever artwork, lights shepherded the length of the river Derwent, flowing from its Pennine source to its mouth on the Trent. A Derwent Valley Mill World Heritage Site Commission project lead by artist Charles Monkhouse.
Charting the Future engages with communities and schools along the Derwent river valley. Referencing 19c OS maps as templates, participating groups rethink and remap their locality in terms of their own contemporary and imagined narrative/ journey. Creative workshops with Chrys have mapped the words of the silent walkers accompanying the Bamford’s Quaker community, the myriad of homes and habitats of Chatsworth & Pilsley and the embroideries of Draycott. These, along with the unique maps of Milford, Matlock, Cromford, Somercotes and others will be included in the Derwent Chart a legacy artwork of Derwent Pulse.
As a board member, lead artist and workshop facilitator Chrys has been involved in devising and developing a wealth projects with Ignite! Futures. Ignite! Futures is a not for profit company promoting creativity in learning.
Chrys has had a key role in 'Breath of Fresh Air', 'Cargoes', 'My Space, My City, My World, My Future' and many other projects. Most recently The UK Artscience Prize and 321 Ignition’s Artscience projects and Pop-Up Shops. Chrys is looking forward to ‘ Year of Light’ projects 2015.
Cargoes : A legacy project lead by Ignite Futures as part of the National Cultural Olympiad 2012. Chrys, as one of a team of six artists, devised workshops and created artwork as ‘cargo’ to be conveyed by narrow boat to other artists and communities along the canal from Loughborough to the Erewash and down from Loughborough to Northampton. The work celebrated themes of communication, creativity and the distictiveness of the locality and community in which it was created. Chrys’ work involved capturing the sounds of walks as ‘walking scores’.
Cargoes followed on from, and was part of the success of the Breath of Fresh Air partnership developed for Igniting Ambition hosted at a range of inspiring sites and working partners across the East Midlands including National Trust, Wildlife Trust and Natural England. As artist in residence Chrys worked at Idle Valley Nature Reserve (Retford, Notts), Vicar Water (Clipstone, Notts) and Saltfleetby Nature Reserve (Lincs) encouraging ‘detective’ work and looking closely at the environment.
My Space My City My World My Future is a creative design project encouraging young people to explore their personal sensibilities, skills and interests and see them as having community and global value.