Jim Allen



  • Mural
  • Bas-relief


  • Ciment Fondu


  • 6 panels, approx. H1100 x W16,000mm

Jim Allen, ‘Transitions’ (1967), Burns Arts Building, Main Campus, University of Otago, North Dunedin, Ōtepoti Dunedin

Images: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021


In Jim Allen: the skin of years (2014) Jim recalled the process of making this commission: “I thought a slab of clay of sufficient depth to allow me to dig into and set up on a vertical wall surface would duplicate the conditions under which the finished work would be read by pedestrians.” (p82) His exploration of how light would play across the surface was complicated by technique of “working backwards.” For the final work a plaster cast was taken off the clay turning solid, raised areas into shady hollows in the final work, and vice versa. A ciment fondu, described as a “thick slurry of raw cement,” was applied to the “face of the [plaster] mould, much the same way as applying a gel coat in fibreglassing.” After chipping away the plaster the ciment fondu surface was packed out to sufficient thickness with cement and sand. This left the worked surface including finger prints facing outward; a tradition that can be traced to August Rodin’s theories regarding the importance of the sculpted surface.

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