First off, let’s start with the facts. Alice was first published in 1865 by author Lewis Carol and illustrated by John Tennniel which entails the surrealistic adventures of a young girl that gets thrown into a fantasy world consisting of anthropomorphic creatures. There have been many adaptations of Alice since. Most notably being the child-friendly, Disney adaptation that I am more personally familiar with. Being inspired by a boat trip with 2 young girls, Tenniel used this as a visual point to start the bizarre adventures.
For celebrating 50 years of the success of the franchise, it wasn’t really best represented by being placed in the middle of the British library, in a tight space with security guards breathing down you neck. I don’t think that this should be titled as an exhibition at all. In fact, I may be exaggerating but the only element of this showcase that was appealing was the little content shown as well as differing adaptation sections of Alice and the perceptions of her adventures during different time.
There is not much to go on when visiting this showcase. Not much, if anything at all to take away. With an exhibition being as small as 50 years of Alice illustrations, it doesn’t seem like 50 years of work were on display. Just a few covers, some 3D objects and an interactive game stimulator for the kids.
Disappointment is not enough of an emotion to describe 50 years of Alice. Especially considering that there are many more adaptations of Alice which could be used for this showcase from different forms of media. Take for example the New Alice film series featuring Johnny Depp as the mad hatter, or the Bob Kane interpretation of the mad hatter in the batman series. Or what about the Alice madness: video game series which was based off of the asylum culture or LSD. Surely, if you want to celebrate years of a movement, you should show all the forms right?
In addition, the space in which the content was place was not considered. The small exhibition just feels dumped in the middle of the library. Not much though gone into the arrangement unfortunately.
It is quite strange that I can talk about a showcase with this degree of negativity, but the pros outweighed the cons. This feels more like a rant then a review but I believe it is impossible to review something that has no content, and Alice celebrating 50 years is exactly that.
British Library (2016), “Alice in Wonderland: Celebrating 150 years”, http://www.bl.uk/events/alice-in-wonderland-exhibition (Accessed March 20).
150 years worth of different “Alice in Wonderland” interpretations in both visualisation and technique. John Tennniel’s Illustrations in 1865, to modern adaptations, this exhibition examines the ideas about each illustrators cm thought behind their approach to Alice, aswell as how each versionight influenced their readers at the time.