Born in Oxford UK. Payen attended Brighton Polytechnic for her fine art degree and met painter and teacher Jack Smith, this developed into long term friendship and mentor-ship discussing abstraction and the inherent possibilities of space in painting.
Payen attended the painting school of the RCA when it was housed in the V&A and her understandings became shaped by modernism and frequent visits to the Indian paintings in the V&A. Payen completed a doctorate at Brighton University in 2005 exploring ideas about time, space and embodiment in painting, supervised by Professor Michael Tucker, she remains influenced in equal parts by the western philosophy of Lyotard and eastern metaphysical views.
Building on her modernist painting roots Payen started to explore the push and pull of democracy from 2005. Her work has been discussed in terms of history painting and its relationship to conflict and more recently embodied action, erasure and exploration of a feminist mark making.
Matt Price explores Payen’s use of the term mélos to understand her approach to painting in the making of a body of work about Greenham Common; ’Mélos is both curious and cryptic and stems from Payen’s interpretation of philosopher and theorist Jean-François Lyotard’s use of the word mélos to describe an aesthetic, poetic, musical - almost religious - experience in the stages before a story has been told and before we can reflect on it’s meanings…
For the artist, the process of painting conveys a deep and emotional power that can be felt or understood before knowing or recounting ‘the story’ of Greenham Common. Just as a piece of music without words can capture and convey a profound mood, a moving emotional register, so too can paint’. From the publication and exhibition ‘The Fence and the Shadow’, 2017, MAC Birmingham.
Payen’s work is held in many collections including - Government Art Collection, The Towner Collection, Royal College of Art, The John Feeney Collection, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Annabel Birtles Collection, Minerva Collection, Jacob Mendolsolm Collection, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Hereford Museum and Art Gallery.