Imagination, Inspiration, Exploration

I love all things Alice and that has led me to my obsession with the book, ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Alice in Wonderland has been an exploration of ideas and imagery for 150 years, since Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) first put pen to paper. These words and imagery lift themselves from the pages and create a world that any artist could explore infinitely and keep drawing from this often incomprehensible novel.

The way the story is written is timeless: Alice’s journey through Wonderland could have just as easily have happened 150 years ago as it could have today. Carroll takes us on a visual journey with his words, each chapter drawing the reader to a new place or situation, whether it be falling down the rabbit hole, talking to a Cheshire cat, a Mock turtle or a Caterpillar.

Many artists have been fascinated and inspired by this story, from Australian artist Charles Blackman to Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama’s, colourful and ‘spotty’ illustrated version.

I have so many favourite Alice books, but I think a must for the true Alice lover would be ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’, a Facsimile published by The British Library. It features the original manuscript given to Alice Lindell as a Christmas present on 26th Nov 1864, which was handwritten and illustrated by Dodgson (aka Carroll).

You may wonder how I will stand out in a sea of Alice books? I don’t think it’s necessarily a case of trying to stand out, but rather to add to the rich collective of Alice interpretations. For me, reinterpreting the book in my own visual language allows me freedom to explore and even embellish the story.

But if I was to pinpoint what I think I have done differently, it would be the graphic style I have adapted not only through the imagery but also through the typography. The monochromatic palette I have used throughout the book strips away the rich tapestry of colour you would normally expect from an Alice book and takes each back to a single image or theme to compliment the story. The simplicity of this approach focuses on the story telling of the narrative, not literal reflection of the characters. The occasional pop of colour (orange is favoured), appears sporadically throughout the book, adding interest and contrast. The typography, in both form and structure, is dynamic and expressive, creating a graphic effect to complement the illustrations. The composition of the text is an art form in itself; illustrating without pictures.

Alice in Wonderland is license to have fun, discover and reacquaint myself with childhood curiosity.