The ‘People Like You’ research project is proud to launch the series, Figure to Ground: Dialogic Portraits by the artist Felicity Allen. In her residency for the project, Allen produced a series of portraits, curated in the on-line exhibition Rooms, and a film, Figure to Ground – a site losing its system. Her work draws attention to the relations between figure and ground – persons and contexts or environments, but also to practices of representation, especially those associated with portraiture: to relations between liking and likeness; and the temporalities of painting as one among other media.

A sitter once said, seeing the portrait series that she was a part of, that she felt she’d joined a family of portraits because of the shared look of them.


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Programme, 18:30 – 20:00 BST

Introducing the project and the residency: Celia Lury

A commentary: Barry Schwabsky

Screening of Figure to Ground – a site losing its system

A walk through Rooms, Felicity Allen and Celia Lury

A discussion with two of the sitters for the dialogic portraits: Will Viney (writer) and Janice Cheddie (writer/researcher)



Felicity Allen is artist in residence with People Like You: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation, making her sixth series of Dialogic Portraits and the film Figure to Ground – a Site Losing its System. Her work is currently on show at the Royal Academy, Turner Contemporary, and in Margate Film Festival, and recently at the Ikon Gallery (A Very Special Place: Ikon in the 1990s). Publications include The Disoeuvre (Ma Bibliothèque, 2019) and Education (Documents of Contemporary Art, MIT/Whitechapel, 2011).

Celia Lury is a Professor in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Warwick University and a Co-Investigator in the research project, People Like You: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation.

Barry Schwabsky is art critic for The Nation, co-editor of international reviews for Artforum and a poet. Recent publications include and The Observer Effect: On Contemporary Painting (Sternberg Press, 2020), as well as essays in Flash Art, Contemporary, Artforum, London Review of Books and Art in America. He curated the exhibition Tightrope Walk: Painted Images after Abstraction at the White Cube gallery (2015-16).