Alice in Wonderland Exhibition

Of all the great Authors from the Victorian Era Charles Lutwidge Dodgson stands out as one of the most memorable for his rather amusing and odd characters in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the looking Glass.

Written under the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll (a much better name by far in my opinion!) it is basically about a young girl, Alice. She falls down a rabbit hole and enters a fantasy world inhabited by the oddest creatures.

The White Rabbit is the one she follows down the rabbit hole and there finds a bottle on a table labelled “DRINK ME”. This makes her to shrink too small to reach the key which she has left on the table. A cake with “EAT ME” on it causes her to grow to such a tremendous size her head hits the ceiling. There is the Cheshire cat who she first meets at  the Duchess’s house in her kitchen, then later outside on the branches of a tree. The cat has a very annoying habit of disappearing at will and on occasion engaging Alice in amusing but sometimes perplexing conversation.

There’s the Hatter, commonly known as the Mad Hatter explains to Alice

‘that he and the March Hare are always having tea because, when he tried to sing for the Queen of Hearts at her celebration, she sentenced him to death for “murdering the time,” but he escapes decapitation’

Lewis carrol also brought in some of his own culture into the story

Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said to Alice, “Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?””No,” said Alice. “I don’t even know what a Mock Turtle is.””It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from,” said the Queen.

Mock Turtle soup is actually made using half a calf’s head…boiled. The Queen of Hearts (as per the playing cards) is a bad tempered vindictive psychopath who is quick to decree death sentences at the slightest offense and scream ‘off with their heads’ at any given moment. And not forgetting there is also the wonderful croquet where the balls are live hedgehogs and the mallets are flamingos.

There have been several adaptations of this great novel of literary nonsense. Most recently Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland which was spectacular with the ever brilliant Johnny Depp but for me the most memorable has to be Disney’s 1951 animated adaption.

However there is an exhibition at the Tate Liverpool running from 4 November 2011  –  29 January 2012.

Lewis Carroll’s timeless novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, have fascinated children and adults alike since their publication over 150 years ago. Alice in Wonderland at Tate Liverpool is the first exhibition of its kind to explore how Lewis Carroll’s stories have influenced the visual arts, inspiring generations of artists. The exhibition will provide insight into the creation of the novels and the inspiration they have provided for artists through the decades.

The starting point for the exhibition is Carroll’s original manuscript, written in 1864 as a present for ten year old Alice Liddell.  Carroll’s own illustrations ensured that images were central to the story, creating a visual world which took on a life of its own.

Alice in Wonderland will offer visitors a rare opportunity to view Carroll’s own drawings and photographs, alongside Victorian Alice memorabilia and John Tenniel’s preliminary drawings for the first edition of the novel.

Carroll’s stories were soon adopted by other artists.  Surrealist artists from the 1930s onwards were drawn towards the fantastical world of Wonderland where natural laws were suspended. From the 1960s through the 1970s, Carroll’s Alice tales also prompted conceptual artists to explore language and its relationship to perception, and the stories inspired further responses in Pop and Psychedelic art.  Expect to see works by artists ranging from Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, to Peter Blake and Yayoi Kusama.

Alice in Wonderland will also showcase an exciting selection of contemporary art, demonstrating the continuing artistic relevance of Carroll’s novels.  Works by Anna Gaskell, Annelies Strba and Torsten Lauschmann will all appear, exploring ideas such as the journey from childhood to adulthood; language, meaning and nonsense; scale and perspective; and perception and reality. Tate Liverpool

You can download Epub/Kindle/PDF/Plucker of ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ and ‘Through the looking Glass‘ for free as they are out of copyright.