Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Exhibition: Alice in Central London

Image source: British Library

I stumbled upon the exhibition almost as curiously as Alice stumbled down the rabbit hole—a little dazed and confused, but unlike poor Alice, I ended up pleasantly surprised. To celebrate 150 years of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy dream, the exhibition explores how Alice captured generations of wonder, through a journey consisting of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscripts, illustrations and interpretations over the years.

Life-sized illustrations of bottles and the Red Queen welcome the visitor as they come through the exhibition. The main bit is separated into 3 parts—the story he told Alice Liddell, the publication of the original text, and the memoribilia and spin-offs it had over the next 150 years. In this section, the highlight is Carroll’s original manuscript, where he scribbled and fleshed out the inspiration for his wondorous story. 
My other personal favourite was reviewing the interpretations and re-interpretations of the Alice story over the decades. The famed author Salvador Dali’s interpretation of Alice was also on display, suggesting how Alice’s enchating story has touched all of us over the world. It was interesting to note that no matter what the interpretation of the story was, and no matter who was interpreting it, the story never strayed far from Carroll’s original.

The pop-up shop for the exhibition is littered with all sorts of cool artefacts like dainty plates and journals written in pretty manuscript to colouring books that induce both adults and children alike. While the exhibition is not as large or grand as one might expect, the pop-up shop offers visitors a place where they can browse and purchase bits of the Alice story that resonate the most with them.

Alice in Wonderland’s marketing heyday seems endless. Even today, every variation of the Alice story has been done and beat to death. From Tim Burton’s creepy live-action film rendition, Electronic Arts’ psychological game thriller versions to Disney’s lovable, children’s cartoon, Alice still continues to inspire. The underlying and overlapping themes and layers to the Alice story will continue to be unwrappd and unravelled, as we interpret her story in new lights and new perspectives. Like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, our adventures through this strange and sometimes twisted and confusing world will scare us and cause us to question our decisions. Like Alice, the world will continue to try talking sense and convince us with reason in an otherwise senseless situation. But like the Cheshire Cat says, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” and the continuous wonderment Alice gives us is a reminder of that.

Alice in Wonderland
Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road

Fri 20 Nov 2015 - Sun 17 Apr 2016 


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