Art — Alison Williams

Alison Williams

By Michelle Saturley


Once upon a garbage bin ...


Artist uses found objects to tell multi-layered stories in mixed media

When Alison Williams was attending art school in Scotland, she happened upon a garbage bin. It looked like an ordinary waste receptacle at first glance, until she peeked inside.

“A woman must have passed away, and her family had thrown away all of her diaries and photos and keepsakes,” Williams recalled. “It was like her entire life had been thrown away in there. It made me sad, but then I got curious.”

Since Williams was constantly on the lookout for found objects to use in various collage and photography projects, she rescued the items from the trash and began poring through the keepsakes, fascinated by what she saw.

The results of that fateful discovery, along with other pieces of paper, fabric and natural objects, have been incorporated into a solo exhibit by Williams at the Gala Café on Elm Street. Through digital photography, watercolor, collage and fabric, Williams has created a series of introspective pieces that take several viewings to uncover all the layers.

“I like using objects and textures to tell a story,” Williams said. “The objects I find, like the things that belonged to this woman, inspire contemplation for me. What did this woman go through in her life? What did she lose? What did she love? I try to find a way to weave together the object’s story and my reflection on that story to form a whole new story, through those layers.”

A native of New Zealand, Williams lives in Goffstown with her husband. When she’s not creating her own works, she helps others be creative. She’s the art program director for Independent Services Network, a company that provides vocational assistance and creative enrichment programs for people with developmental disabilities. Her students are currently involved in an art show of their own over at A Break in Time bead shop, located on Chestnut Street, just around the corner from where William’s show is mounted.

“The people involved in the program have a wide range of developmental issues, from highly functioning people who hold a job to people who are basically nonverbal,” she said. “I try to tailor the activities and programs so that regardless of their situation they can unlock their creative potential and create art on their own terms.”

After years of traveling around and changing jobs, Williams likes the idea of setting down some roots in the community. She’s already been involved in a few group shows in the area, and says that the Gala show has attracted even more attention.

“I donated some pieces for the silent auction fundraiser Gala did for the Boys and Girls Club last month,” she said. “When the event was over, they asked me if they could keep the pieces up, and if I had any others. It just sort of happened.”

Next, Williams will be featured at the Beliveau Fine Art Gallery at the Franco American Centre in August. Her work is featured at Mass General Hospital, in their Cancer Care Center, through the end of August. And in 2007, Williams will be a featured artist at Boston’s prestigious Bromfield Gallery.

Until then, Williams is concentrating on making more discoveries and creating new pieces using her trusty 35 mm digital camera.

“I never took a digital photography class, because when I was coming through art school, it wasn’t offered,” she said. “There are some who think digital photography shouldn’t be recognized as an art form. But it’s so versatile. There are so many possibilities. You can’t cut yourself off from something just because it’s new or you don’t understand it.”

For more information on Alison Williams’ work, go to The Gala Café is located at the corner of Elm and Amherst streets, in downtown Manchester.

- Michelle Saturley

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH