Nicole Allen | Beyond the Garden Gate
Dec 9 - 23

Artist Reception:
Saturday, December 9 @ 3-5 pm, with an artist talk at 4 pm
RSVP your attendance to

Presales will open Monday, Dec. 4 @ 10 am, in-person, online, and over the phone at

Wall Space Gallery is proud to present the latest solo exhibition by Ottawa painter Nicole Allen. Beyond the Garden Gate explores flowers as an avenue of nonverbal communication and willing exposure of intimate feeling. Allen’s canvases brim with life as she moves us through the rhythms of her innermost thoughts in jubilant and tender palettes.

Her varied arrangements of flower species extend beyond the edges of the canvas, unconfined by its boundaries. Their abundance becomes the meaning of the work – an overflow of feeling, or competing feelings, as suggested in the title of Indecision II. Set against neutral backdrops of greys, Prussian blues, and teals, Allen uses colour and line to pull us into the liveness of texture and movement contained within her subjects. Avoiding hard edges, the boundaries of her flora blur into one another breaking their representation down into tensions of colour. Each unique flower competes for our focus, pushing into a dance across the canvas.

"By deconstructing the initial form and by embracing spontaneity and experimentation in my work, I allow the materials and colours to guide me as much as I guide them. This relationship results in pieces that are both intentional and organic – a reflection of the interplay between control and surrender. "

- Nicole Allen

Allen’s reference to the garden gate and what lies beyond calls up moments of entering or being invited into an intimate space of personal creativity. Closing Time II is one of the rare works of Allen’s that abandons the restriction of the vase, opening the canvas to the controlled chaos of an English garden. She places us at eye level with the upward sprouting stems, as though we are lost amidst the tangle. Patches of navy blue suggest night sky and the inevitable coming of morning.

Allen describes her still life subjects energetically but sensitively. Her brushwork, at times, is loose to the point of abstraction; leaving individual flowers tethered to their identity by a thread. It’s as though at any minute the whole composition might shift of its own free will.

Flowers carry depths of meaning, and are often given to, or cultivated by us at the most important times of our lives. Their sentiments shift depending on the intention of the bearer and the context of their giving or growing. Roses from a romantic partner speak a different message than a bundle of wildflowers gathered with a friend from their garden. Allen is adept
at capturing the subtleties of speaking through flowers, teasing out the complex intertwining of relationships and inner narratives.

- Tiffany April

Beyond the Garden Gate Catalogue

There is a purity and truth in the natural world that motivates me creatively. I do not strive to paint an exact copy of the still life, but to convey a subjects’ essence through colour, simplified form and the random but graphic patterns found therein. I am motivated to find a balance in my painting between organic structure and an emphasis on the linear which add cohesion and stability to the work. Working primarily in acrylic, pastel and pencil are additionally employed as forms are established and layered.

Nicole holds a degree in Art History from Queen’s University, and an Honours diploma in Applied Museum Studies from Algonquin College. In 2010, Nicole began exhibiting her work professionally and now paints full time out of her studio as a member of The Loft Art Studios collective in Ottawa. She is represented by Wall Space Gallery in Ottawa, Canvas Gallery in Toronto and Westland Gallery in London, ON. Her paintings are held in private and corporate collections within Canada, the U.S. and Europe.