About Chris Allan
Painter and printmaker
Chris Allan's career was spent in the museum world, but his heart lay in art – and how to create it. Born in Newbury in 1946 and schooled in Bedford, he graduated from both Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art, gaining a first in Fine Art in 1970. Subsequently he forged a successful career as Curator of Prints at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester University, becoming Deputy Director of the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow University, in 1977.
Creating art was for years an out-of-hours activity, until he seized the opportunity of early retirement in 1996. His early interests had lain in abstract painting but over the past 15 years he has re-focused his work to explore the natural world around us. The results are expressed through acrylic and watercolour paintings, and in intaglio printmaking – etching, aquatint and drypoint.
Working at the Hunterian from 1977, one task was to complete the reconstruction of the famous Mackintosh House. Still a must-see on every Glasgow tourist's itinerary, the Hunterian is the biggest single holding of Mackintosh's work in the world. More recently, Allan accepted the challenge to create a reconstruction of Mackintosh's long-obliterated decorative frieze for Glasgow Art Club's historic gallery, re-opened in November 2014. From the early 1990s, following some tuition in Tokyo, he has created several decorative folding screens, based on the proportions and construction of traditional Japanese models.
A poster designed by the artist in 1981.
The artist with a screen acquired by Italian furniture manufacturer Cassina in 1997.
Photo: Glasgow University
Among Allan's museum publications, Artists at Harley's: Pioneering Printmaking in the 1950s was published by the Hunterian in conjunction with an exhibition in 2000. Elizabeth Blackadder Prints (Lund Humpries) followed in 2003. It catalogues Dame Elizabeth's print output to date, detailing her inspirations and techniques and illustrating every one. Work on an update is ongoing to record her work of the past decade. Allan is also a contributor to the 2015 publication on Duncan Shanks, The Poetry of Place (Freightbooks) edited by Anne Dulau Beveridge, which surveys five decades of work by this most talented of Scotland's painters. In 2018 he was lead organiser of Robin Hume 1943-2016, a memorial exhibition and publication commemorating a fine portrait sculptor and painter, whose encouragement and teaching inspired generations of students at Glasgow School of Art.
Robin Hume at Glasgow Art Club. May-June 2018.
One of several variant designs for the Glasgow Art Club Frieze, 2014.