1934-1991

Narrative painter who began taking art classes while serving a six-month sentence for minor theft. In the late 1960s, he was taken on by the Portal Gallery, and enjoyed much commercial and critical success. Born in the East End, Allin took a variety of jobs after National Service in North Africa, including in the Merchant Navy, with the council park's department planting trees, and as a swimming pool attendant. His most permanent job was working as a long-distance lorry driver, as a result of which he often signed his work Allin Road. On release from prison, he chose the streets and shops of Hackney and further into East London as his subject. He recorded fast-disappearing sights and vignettes of London life. He had his first Portal Gallery exhibition in 1969, where his work was keenly collected. In 1974 he published (with a text by Arnold Wesker) Say Goodbye: you may never see them again, a book about the old East End. A second book, Circus Life, in which he depicts life on the road with Gerry Cottle's circus, appeared in 1982. In 1979, he won the international Prix Suisse de Peinture Naive award, the first British recipient of the prize.