Kathleen Saywell Allen

Kathleen Saywell Allen

1906 - 1983

Born 1906 in Bedford Park Chiswick, London ; Died 1983

Artist, muralist, designer and teacher; painter of urban society.

Kathleen Saywell Allen (or Kay as she was known to her friends) was initially educated at home due to a childhood illness. She then later attended Bromley County School for Girls (1920-24) before studying at the Royal College of Art, London (1924-28). Allen taught in London and Warwickshire until 1936, and then again in London in 1938. In between these two periods of teaching, Allen briefly attended the Slade School of Fine Art (1936-7) and secured a studio on Fetter Lane in the city of London. Prior to 1938, Allen dropped her Christian name and exhibited as Saywell Allen, possibly for reasons associated with being a female artist. During World War II Allen's studio was bombed and she lost much of her early work. After the unfortunate events of 1941, Allen continued to teach in a number of London schools, whilst also producing work for the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC). Between 1938 and 1948 Allen acted as exhibitions secretary for the Artists' International Association (AIA). After the war, from 1946 until her retirement, Allen taught for twenty years at Goldsmiths College, London.

Allen is represented by a number of public collections including the Museum of London, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, Derbyshire and Derby School Library Service, University of Liverpool, Morley College, and Goldsmiths (University of London). The Imperial War Museum archive holds a folder of detailed correspondence with Allen from 1941 onwards (Cat. No. ART/WA2/03/317).

(Benjamin Angwin)