Debra and I first saw Alison Griffin’s work at her degree show at Central St Martin’s in 2012. Using pen and pencil she had painstakingly drawn a vast domestic setting on greaseproof paper. We stopped in our tracks, at over one and a half meters long, we were blown away by the scale and craftsmanship involved. We marvelled at Alison’s patience and attention to detail and the transparent nature of the material created dramatic lighting and shadows all adding to its beguiling and unsettling quality. Even the title, Behind Every Window Lies Another Hidden Story suggested something more sinister beneath the surface.
Alison explores her surroundings, particularly her home, and all the surroundings that occupy her memory. These memories (whether real, imagined or distorted), are an important influence as are her dreams and nightmares which have remained since childhood. The French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard describes home as a safe, private and intimate sanctuary, a refuge for dreaming. In her work, Alison investigates what happens when nightmares and fears from the outside invade the safe sanctuary of home, subverting Bachelard’s notion of home into an uncanny place of fear and dread.
The use of dramatic areas of light, dark and shadow in Alison’s drawings generates powerful feelings of suspense and dread. This, combined with her use of cropped and distorted angles almost creates the sensation of being watched and also places the viewer in an uncomfortable voyeuristic role. In this way Alison employs similar techniques to those adopted by David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock and this cinematic quality appealed to both Debra and I when we first came across Alison’s work. It is particularly apparent in The Dark Let Him In – Parts 1 & 2 which we both sold at our show in May earlier this year.
Alison is making new works on paper using graphite pencil for our stand at the Battersea Art Fair in October. Detailed scenes of an abandoned fairground provide the unsettling setting. The darkness draws us in and we enter her uncomfortable world with a sense of foreboding.