This week’s Artwork Wednesday is dedicated to Jude Griebel’s works from his book “Footsteps in The Macaulay House,” inspired by his Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) residency. The three pieces “Shadow-like things, out of the corner of my eye,” “Last night I had another visitation” and “I suddenly stepped into a dark forest in which I was uninvited,” are currently on display in the Locate exhibition. Focusing on themes of psychology and transformation, Griebel’s haunting visuals are inspired by ghost stories from the Macaulay House where the artist completed his KIAC hosted residency. It was an ideal subject matter as Griebel’s work is, in his words, “continually an interplay between the imagination and the physical world, and depicts instances in which these two spaces overlap.”
Located in Dawson City on Princess and 7th Avenue, the Macaulay House was originally the home of the first mayor of Dawson City before finally becoming property of Parks Canada. At one point in its history, the building was developed by the Yukon government as a household for troubled youth, and was temporarily the home to young Daniel Hummel who would later be convicted for murder. Griebel became interested in the rumoured paranormal presence and was accepted by KIAC to complete his project in 2007. In his publish book “Footsteps in The Macaulay House,” Griebel illustrates the ghost stories associate with the house and describes tenant experiences.
Griebel corresponded with past artists and collected their encounters. These three exhibited works from Griebel’s book reflect these accounts of shadowy figures occasionally scene by resident artists. “I suddenly stepped into a dark forest in which I was uninvited,” depicts one account described as a ‘heavy feeling, like having to push through brush in a forest.’ Through experiences such as these, Griebel came to realize the two most commonly referenced sites of supernatural presence in the house were the staircase and two upstairs bedrooms. The rocking chair depicted in “Shadow-like things, out of the corner of my eye,” is a known fixture found in one of these bedrooms. Done in oil on paper, Griebel’s stylistic choice in using golden hues emulates the feeling of melancholy that many of the residents spoke of. Compositionally, the perspective of each work positions the viewer to feel as though we have suddenly come across the figures ourselves. Griebel achieves this through focussing his shadowed figures in full light, as if a door has swung open to reveal the unanticipated guests. While many did not have such vivid experiences such as these, the consensus from Griebel’s correspondence was that the Macaulay House held an unnerving presence that left its residents tense.