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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia born 1944

  • born Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1944 movement details Asia, Europe 1970
  • Europe, Tunisia 1983-1988

The prime of life no.1 (woman wearing yellow jacket] 1979-80
Collection Title: "The prime of life". a series of 12 hand coloured photographs
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph, hand-coloured in pencil, colour pencils, watercolour and gouache gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: Signed reverse, l.c.l., pencil, "Micky Allan". Dated reverse,l.c.,pencil, "negs 1979/prints and handcolouring 1980".
Secondary Insc: Titled reverse, lower c., pencil,"THE PRIME OF LIFE" 12 portraits", inscribed reverse,c.l., pencil, "1" [in circle]. Insc. reverse, l.c.r., pencil, "photograph, watercolour, pencil, gouache/Ilfobrom paper.Hypo elimination"
Tertiary Insc: inc.reverse, u.c.l.,pencil, " 2 4 7 and 6 (face double)".
Dimensions: printed image 32.3 h x 42.6 w cm sheet 40.2 h x 50.4 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1981
Accession No: NGA 81.312.1
Subject: Portrait: female

Allan explores ideas in series, a strategy that gives her work an exploratory, inquisitive flavour. These areas of investigation grew out of social or environmental concerns and interests. In some of her most notable series she focuses on life cycles-on babies and old age and on people in the so-called 'prime' of their life, which the artist defined as ages 28-42, based partly on age cycles according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Several of the people photographed for the series The prime of life preferred the painted image of themselves over the black-and-white image, saying the colour gave it more 'life'. As Allan said in 1982, 'I think the painting gives the photographs warmth. I guess that's the colour really. Colour is crucial'.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra