Allen Ball


April 1 - May 7, 2022

Artist Website

Fort Gallery is pleased to present The Wordless Book and other sounds, an exhibition by artist Allen Ball, whose work incorporates decorative arts, abstract symbolism and religious iconography, as well as cigarette papers, linoleum and non-Christian crosses, in an attempt to unpack the troubled colonial, racist church discourse of his childhood in London in the 1960s and 1970s.

The exhibition consists of paintings drawn from an ongoing series that interrogates the symbolic and associative power of colour through Victorian Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s The Wordless Book, which was designed as a Christian non-verbal evangelistic device using four colours to teach and colonize through the word of God. Alongside these works are six paintings that depict all ten digits of a Victorian set of hymn board psalm numbers, running from zero through nine. Only digits 2 and 3 appear together in this series to symbolize and explore Psalm 23 of the Book of Psalms.

Ball states: “Just as The Wordless Book and other sounds vacillate between church and gallery, thereby situating the viewer in a liminal space between ritual and motif, I explore these works with a choir. My hope is that the singing – and painting – of Psalm 23 in this exhibit constructs a liminal space between individual and community, artistic production and presentation, personal suffering and collective memorialization. Perhaps this collective gesture will highlight the tensions between religion, state, and the individual, and help guide me beyond the indoctrination and constraints of my own formative Christian education.”