At first glance, Ambrosine Allen’s pictures appear to be black and white photographs of a familiar but somewhat fantastic landscape; it’s only when one looks more closely that the structure of the images becomes apparent. The images are photographic in a sense but there is a strangeness to the surface. These are collages made of tiny scraps of photographs cut from books and used to build up the strange worlds Allen depicts. In the series Compendium to the New World, images from which are on show at Room, the world becomes a strange dreamscape in which odd geological features sit in uncomfortable proximity to one another under stormy skies or in the shadow of volcanic eruptions.
Cutting up old photographs or magazines to make collages is territory artists share with pretty much everyone who’s ever kept a scrapbook, maybe with everyone who’s ever been a child. But nonetheless – or maybe as a consequence, we all recognise the activity after all – it can be incredibly fertile ground for artists. Even something as simple as cutting up two pictures and sticking them back together can result in intriguing and sometimes disturbing new images.