Jocelyn Allen

University: University of Wales and London College of Communication

Graduation: 2010 & 2014

Genre: Therapeutic self-portraiture

Artist Statement: My work is mainly self-portraiture and allows me to express myself and my thoughts. Projects such as Your Mind & Body Is All That You’ve Got parts I & II have allowed me to accept my body and myself more, which led on to Covering The Carpet, which is a performance in concealing my pubic hair. My most recent complete project Amalgamated Anomalies is about having mainly made work in my bedroom/s since moving to London in late 2010 and allowing myself to continue to do so as long as I can make images that aren’t exact replicas of old ones. For me the work is quite therapeutic, but I also hope that it helps others who have felt or feel similar.

7th February 2014 , from the series  Covering The Carpet

7th February 2014, from the series Covering The Carpet

Where did you attend university and what year did you graduate? I did a BA at (what was then) the University of Wales, Newport from 2007 to 2010. Then I studied an MA in Photography part-time at the London College of Communication from 2013 to 2014.

What are some standout moments from your time at university? During my BA it was the people that I met at university that had a big impact on me. It felt like the first time in my life that I had met a bunch of likeminded people (and not just on my course).

16th September 2014 , from the series  Covering The Carpet

16th September 2014, from the series Covering The Carpet

I spent the first couple of years covering my work up with a lot of meaning to not make it so personal, but in the third year I let go a little bit. I guess I must have felt safe enough to do so and I often wonder if I had gone to a different university would I have gone in the path that I have done.

Just before finishing I won an award from the Guernsey Photography Festival which also encouraged me to continue.

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into, and what themes do you find yourself exploring? I really wouldn’t call myself a photographer and I’m at a point where I am reassessing what I do. I’m increasingly becoming more interested in writing and performance, whilst still using photography and video. My work is a bit performative and photography records that, but I do find it hard to tick what boxes my work fits into – if there is a therapeutic self-portraiture box then that will do for now.

My themes have been representation and identity for a long time. Hiding and revealing also comes into it and anxiety is something that runs through most of my projects.

23rd June 2014 , from the series  Covering The Carpet

23rd June 2014, from the series Covering The Carpet

27th May 2014 , from the series  Covering The Carpet

27th May 2014, from the series Covering The Carpet

Can you tell us about your MA in Photography. Do you think you learnt anything vital that has changed the way you make work? With my MA it was a very different experience to my BA, but I think I did it at a good time for me. I knew that no one would hold my hand, but I wanted to experiment whilst getting regular feedback. I made one video piece in 2010 after finishing my BA, but had pretty much left it alone until doing my MA. I feel a bit more comfortable about expanding my practice since doing the course.

Do you have any photographers or writers who you always turn to for inspiration? Not particularly. Looking at Instagram or seeing what my friends have been up to can be inspiring enough to make me want to create something. Otherwise going to exhibitions, watching documentaries, reading biographies and looking at art books is another good source.

How do you go about generating ideas for new work? My work is very personal so new ideas generally come from how I feel about things or reading something that resonates with me. I research a bit, but I often find that trying things out either moves a project along or makes me want to come back to it at another time.

28th September 2014 , from the series  Covering The Carpet

28th September 2014, from the series Covering The Carpet

Do you have a favourite series of yours that you have completed? Can you tell us why? Not really but if I had to choose one then I guess it would be Covering The Carpet. I like classic nudes and they’re not obviously me, so I can look at them and like the oddness of some of them.

Can you give any advice to new graduates? Find what you’re interested in, be passionate and if you don’t try you don’t get. Make the work that you want to make, not what you think everyone wants you to make – every industry is full these days so you might as well do what makes you happy. Also know when you need to rest.

Can you tell us about the use of video in your work? Photography is great, but I sometimes felt limited by it so video seemed like a natural progression. Most of my video work isn’t shown to anyone, but I am hoping to start experimenting with it more again. The work on my website is a mix including Your Mind & Body Is All That You Got which I made to go alongside the photo project of the same name and sheds some light on why a lot of my projects have been about body image and self-esteem. Your Dedication Worries Me A Little is an ongoing project of over 1000 webcam videos of me dancing to songs and Opening Tinder is a sound and text piece about the dating app Tinder.

How do you go about marketing your work for exhibitions? I used to enter a lot of competitions though I am more selective now. You have to think about what your chances are, if you actually fit in to what you think they are looking for and if the cost is worth it. Occasionally people approach me because they have seen my work in other shows or online through social media.