Jim Allen’s 100th birthday

We’re celebrating Jim Allen’s 100th birthday!

Jim’s incredible art has been a crucial feature of Futuna Chapel since it was built. He is acknowledged as the ‘co-creator’ of what is often considered Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant piece of architecture, with its architect, John Scott.

Jim designed four crucial parts of the chapel – the chapel’s striking coloured perspex windows, its 14 Stations of the Cross, the wooden crucifix which is mounted above the altar, and the ‘light modulators’ –modernist constructions made of rimu, glass and yellow Perspex – installed above the entranceway to reduce the afternoon sunlight entering the chapel.

Futuna Chapel marked a significant point in Allen’s development – as it did in Scott’s architectural career. The building became, inadvertently, a profound interaction between an architect and a visual artist.

According to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki curator Ron Brownson, the  Christ figure (1961) is one of the most significant wood carvings produced in Aotearoa during that period. The Stations of the Cross are similarly dramatic and innovative, with their angular imagery cut out of plaster of Paris. The Stations underwent significant conservation in 2021, when the Chartwell Trust and the Wellington City Council sponsored the cleaning and repairing of the works by leading conservator Caroline Izzo.

The Christ figure was stolen from the chapel in 1999 or 2000 and was found in 2012, after which it went through conservation and was returned to the chapel, in the presence of Jim and John Scott’s whanau.  

Jim Allen with the Christ figure, and with John Scott’s whanau, at the time of the figure’s return to the chapel in 2012

In the decades that followed his collaboration with Scott, Allen moved further away from traditional approaches and concepts in his art-making. He devoted his energies to performative and non-object art. An influential teacher at Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland from 1960 until 1976, he challenged and inspired a new wave of the country’s artists. 

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Auckland Art Gallery is holding a special exhibition to mark his birthday – visit if you can! It is being held from

For more information about Jim’s art work see here.  Here is further information about Jim and his birthday by our Trustee Greg O’Brien.