Jocelyn Purdie and Jan Allen


15 September – 18 November, 2001 (Sunday through Thursday, 4:30 – 9 p.m.)

Turbulent was a collaborative by Jan Allen and Jocelyn Purdie that consisted of backlit, rippling sheer curtains hung in the front porch window of the SWW with the broadcast sound of breaking crockery. The distinctive sound of smashing dishes was muffled, as if emanating from the unseen interior of the house. The curtains were whipped by internal air currents in a way that suggested localized disturbance. Although Turbulent made unmistakable reference to psychic strife and minor outbursts of domestic violence, the steady state of the components, which reach neither crescendo nor resolution, produced an unexpected lyricism and deadpan humour.



Continuous colour

06 May  – 23 June, 2003

The lush hues of lipstick smears fill the mullioned grid of the front-porch windows at 448 Bagot St. in a new project by artists Jan Allen and Jocelyn Purdie. Entitled Continuous colour, the swatches of colour float in the formal constraint of an architecturally determined modernist grid. But, in this unpretentiously domestic site, the piece stands for the multiplication of small actions of self-beautification.  From the roseate glow of Power Pink to the warm flesh tones of Urban Dusk, the display offers a sampler of the colours of personal adornment.

The project title refers to Cover Girl’s Continuous Colour line of lipsticks designed to resist fading and smearing, a valued quality that reduces the need for continuous re-application in the continuous campaign to present a vibrant face to the world.  Whether the goal is seduction or perfect grooming, we want lipstick to stay put, to resist the entropic assaults of the incidents of daily life.

Despite the smeary gestures that might suggest lust or the traces of betrayal, Continuous colour is all about order. The installation stages the impulse of beautification, the impulse to arrange harmoniously and connect with a larger universal order.  The project thus points to the seldom-appreciated etymological root of the word cosmetic in the Greek word kosmos, that is, the world or universe.

Jan Allen is a Kingston-based visual artist, curator and writer residing in Kingston. She was the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre until 2012 and is currently its Director. Her work has been presented in ten solo and numerous group exhibitions since 1990. Her independent critical writing has been published in C Magazine, Artext and Poliester.

Jocelyn Purdie is a Kingston artist, curator of the Swamp Ward Window and Director of the Union Gallery. She has participated in several solo and groups exhibitions since the late 1980s. She has a keen interest in public art particularly contemporary art practices that engage with the public realm as well as those that function in private spaces with public access. Her interest in these issues lead to the creation of the Swamp Ward Window as a new platform for contemporary visual and media art installations and interventions. She also wears lipstick on special occasions despite the obvious aesthetic and psychological benefits.