Do you think that Ambrosine Allen’s compositions from her ongoing series, ‘Compendium to the New World’, are drawings, collages, pictures of imaginary places or are they depictions of real landscapes, emotional responses to the space around her. All and more. They are for the most part collages, each picture meticulously made up of tiny scraps of photographs cut from books and used to build imaginary scenes of a World untamed, nature in full flow, at the dawn of time or on the edge of destruction. You can never be sure. The only certainty is that they are full of energy, are tempestuous, highly charged and emotional.
What makes these compositions work is the familiarity we have with the landscapes she creates – most reference classic 18th and 19th Century landscape pictures – we feel we know them yet are aware there there’s an undeniable strangeness, a fantastical aspect to them that nags, scratches at your minds eye, doesn’t let up. But you’re not sure why. It is a talent. A delicate balance between fact and fiction, reality and the world of dreams.
Here’s what she has to say about her work:
Compendium to the New World is an ongoing series of drawings and collages that reference 18th and 19th century engravings of a geographical or geological interest. Informed by topography and the science, myths and history of humanity’s interaction with the physical world, the series presents an array of landscapes both imaginary and real; architectural and natural.
The images are often troubling in some way: these are landscapes in turmoil, altered ecosystems where ambiguous structures sit in unusual or precarious settings, bizarre natural phenomena sweep through unfamiliar terrains, uncanny events unfold. It is a world that shadows our own but presents an alternative evolution. It posits a possible outcome to the self–destructive nature of mankind and pays recognition to the force of nature.