Alison Critchlow is a contemporary painter based in Cumbria. She combines drawing outside with intuitive methods of working in the studio to explore ideas and possibilities. She is interested in how we experience landscape, interconnectedness and how creative process works in relation to place and memory.
Her paintings consider the passage of time, focusing on tidal movements and natural rhythms, changes of state and fluid boundaries. They often have a timespan and a pace – charting fading light; waves crashing; water becoming ice; ice melting; flower rhythms. Recurring subjects are sea, ice, light and the edges – of land, sky, nightime, perception. Informed by sensory experience and the ‘mind’s eye’ her paintings move happily between representation and abstraction. They invite the viewer to step up close to these edges, and ‘in between’ places and wonder about what it is to be human in the world.
The physical process of painting is central to her approach, allowing the medium itself to inform thinking.
‘The speed, texture and flow of marks I think of as a painterly language, both abstract and universal. How thin veils of paint sit next to pools of oil or how a drip might animate a painted space amazes me. I use a wide variety of materials, matching the medium and technique to the essence of the painting.’
Journeys to the Hebrides, a month spent as artist in residence on the Isle of Iona and a trip to Greenland in 2010 have informed many paintings. Since 2017 Alison has worked closely with the Wordsworth Trust on various projects. She spent two years learning from Wordsworth’s creative process and ideas. Drawing from his manuscripts and painting in Dove Cottage garden by day and at night. This time has had a profound affect on her work not least in opening her eyes to the rich potential for creative collaboration across art forms.