Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Alice Revisited

Alice Revisited

Last year Liverpool's Tate Modern held a fascinating collection of art associated with Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass

 Mike Healey

In August, 1999 I held a one-man show in the beautiful gallery in John Ruskin's former home - Brantwood - on Lake Coniston, Cumbria (UK)

In this exhibition I explored the notion of Alice - now a young woman - returning underground to rediscover the strange, somewhat disturbing  world Charles Lutwidge Dodgson had  first created in 1862

Below are a few images I have retained from my exhibition

The above picture provided the poster image for this exhibition. It shows Alice falling, as if in a strange dream

It is a rather complex collage, with a mixture of photographic material printed on acetate - layer upon layer. Today you can achieve this effect more readily using Photoshop!

This large collage (above) was the signature picture of the exhibition

It shows a young Alice, now on the edge of womanhood, confidently entering Wonderland - a Wonderland already somewhat overgrown and run to seed!

In a number of pictures I used John Tenniel's original image of Alice but put her in an enlarged, essentially alien environment. The mushrooms are deliberately phallic!

In my Wonderland Alice experiences an emotional roller-coaster, often having to hide from those she encounters - including a March Hare who has recently escaped from a lunatic aslyum!

This is a Wonderland that has changed much since Alice's first visit - and not necessarily for the better!

I frequently added strange plant forms, many found in the sea or only visible through a very powerful microscope

These represented not only the natural process of fungoid decay but Alice's awakening sexuality and added a slightly disturbing element to Tenniel's overly familiar, conventional depiction of young Alice

The strange forest shown here is done in pencil on hard, smooth paper - thereby allowing me to smear and create highlights with the sharp edge of my rubber

This visit to Wonderland takes on the characteristics of a nightmare as Alice discovers a land of decay and corruption

The head with the enlarged eye is all that remains of the Red Queen!

This collage - one of a set of six in the exhibition - encapsulates the change that Alice herself has undergone since her  first visit. Now, on the edge of womanhood, she has discovered sex and (hopefully) love

Here (above) young Alice gazes with ill-disguised curiosity at the teenage Alice in the arms of her young lover

The subtext to this entire exhibition - of which the pictures shown here are but a tiny sample - was the burgeoning sexuality and independence of my own daughter, a development that every parent invariably experiences with a mixture of optimism and anxiety!

Mike Healey

No comments: