Suburban Darkness

Imogen Hawgood - Year 2, Illustration


Suburbia is the embodiment of both the American Dream and the slowly unfolding crisis which has followed as America wakes up from it. The ‘dream’ has become an unrealistic expectation of the perfect life and suburbia a microcosm for American society. Neatly ordered neighbourhoods with perfectly kept lawns and beds of roses, all carefully held within white picket fencing, mask a hidden reality. Suburbia is host to those who, having discovered the dream is unattainable, have become imprisoned in fantasy; it consumes and destroys them. I wanted to explore this idea through these illustrations, initially inspired by a short story titled ‘The Swimmer’, written by John Cheever, which follows a character whose obsession with achieving the ‘dream’ ultimately ruins him.

Although these gouache illustrations aren’t literally dark, they depict a hidden suburban darkness. The rusty 60s Cadillac, empty suburban pool and derelict American wooden house all represent the illusion that is the American Dream.