British Library. Running until 17 April 2016.
One of the most important children’s literature stories is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and it is now getting an exhibition-treatment at the British Library, for its 150th anniversary. Imagine a fat caterpillar, smoking a hookah, and a white rabbit wearing spectacles and a waistcoat, who cannot be late at the Library, along with numerous books and especially curated video games, and a retelling of some of the most pivotal episodes of the story. An interesting side to the whole exhibition is a sculpture that is Alice from the bottom-up, with her legs up in the air as she is about scramble through a rabbit-hole.
Alice in Wonderland might have been adapted into a Disney film, and even given the glorious Tim Burton effect but there are still dark arcs to it. Written by a clergyman during the Victorian era, it contains mathematics in the plotline and is appealing because it contains surrealist themes – it evokes the subconscious to narrate a tale of illogical paintings of ideas that get trapped in one’s own mind. Lewis first conceived the story when one afternoon he told it to a young maiden by the name of Alice Liddell, and her sisters. That was an abbreviated edition of the story, which Lewis later updated and included illustrations from John Tenniel to express the story more creatively.
It has become such a popular piece of work Alice’s adventures have been translated into numerous editions already but the storyline always rings close to home. The combined efforts of Carroll and Tenniel are explored in greater depth, for the exhibition, including a glimpse of the original script, illustrators/artists who later contributed to the original story, from Salvadore Dali to Ralph Steadman.