Jonathan Allen

Jonathan Allen (UK, 1966) is a London-based artist, writer and educator whose work has featured in many exhibitions and publications in the UK and internationally since the early 1990s. He is best known for his work addressing the cultural histories of enchantment and for his performance alter ego, the faux gospel magician Tommy Angel. Allen has taught widely in UK art schools as well as regularly contributing to specialist international lecture programs. He is a curator at London's Magic Circle Museum, and in 2009 initiated and co-curated the Hayward Gallery touring exhibition Magic Show. As a frequent contributor to the New York-based art & culture journal Cabinet he has written on subjects as diverse as arboreal camouflage, asymmetric town twinning, and the stage history of shadows. Allen's recent book Lost Envoy (2016) examining early twentieth-century cartomancy is published by Strange Attractor Press and distributed by MIT Press.

  • Lost Envoy

    Lost Envoy

    The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare

    Jonathan Allen

    A seventy-nine-card, hand-painted tarot deck created c.1906 by the mystic and artist Austin Osman Spare, reproduced in its entirety, accompanied by contemporary images and texts.

    In the spring of 2013, a seventy-nine-card, hand-painted tarot deck created c.1906 by the mystic and artist Austin Osman Spare, was identified within the collections of The Magic Circle Museum in London.

    Austin Spare's lifelong interest in cartomancy is well documented, yet very few of his own fortune-telling cards were thought to have survived. This compelling new example of the artist's early work demonstrates his precocious involvement with the currents that shaped the British Occult Revival at the beginning of the twentieth century, and his interactions with some of the period's artistic and political protagonists including Aleister Crowley, Arthur Ivey, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Pamela Colman Smith.

    Magic Circle Museum curator and artist Jonathan Allen set about tracing the deck's provenance, its place in the artist's oeuvre, and within the wider histories of cartomancy, potentially re-writing the history of popular Tarot in the early twentieth century.

    Lost Envoy reproduces Austin Spare's tarot deck in its entirety for the first time, alongside new written and visual contributions from Jonathan Allen, Phil Baker, Helen Farley, Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill, Sally O'Reilly, and Gavin Semple.

    • Hardcover $40.95