This is still the biggest project that I set out to do, so the next few (more than few) posts will be all from “The Alice in Wonderland Project”.
At the end of our first year we were asked to think about our final year project that would span the whole year, so it had to be good. I knew that this was my time to shine and do something epic, but also something that would appeal to my mates so I could rope them in and just have a blast.
I had come across Annie Leibovitz’s Alice in Wonderland spread for Vogue, and in awe of the colours, surrealness and beauty I decided “I’ll lift that”. Don’t worry, I didn’t just copy, I had a concept; The Adult Issues found in Alice in Wonderland. A concept that was spawned from a book lent to me by my friend Lira; Lewis Carroll, Photographer by Helmut Gernsheim .
I vaguely knew that Carroll took some photographs, but not to the extent and to the subject that is explained in this book. If you don’t want to ruin the Disney version, or even the lovely twee romanticism of the books, don’t read that book and don’t read the rest of this post and subsequent posts. Just look at the pictures.
Turns out that Mr Carroll had a lot of troubles; Opium, eating disorders, the questionable fascination with little girls, particularly that of Alice Liddell, the real life Alice, and generally a disconnection to reality. All of which I’ll go into more depth as we go.
The Tea Party scene pretty much encapsulates all the issues, and is such an iconic “event” that it would have been daft, if not moronic, to not get my mates over, throw a tea party in my parent’s garden and rope in my sister’s friend’s younger sister because she was cute and blonde and had a dress! It was a beautiful day.
In that Tea Party scene, as I’ve said, there’s a lot going on. The social gathering and it’s eccentricity, apparently Carroll would swing his tea pot from side to side to get the perfect brew; The grown men, who are clearly not compos mentis, who have this, flippant attitude to Alice, but ultimately intrigued with her company, she also flips from having fun to being annoyed with them; And the various riddles and questions about reality which arise throughout the story.
This was the first time that I really saw that photography might be able to go beyond what you get in a fashion magazine, and really be something that goes over into the realm of conceptual art.
I also don’t think I’ve enjoyed making work as much as this. Everyone was wonderful and worked hard, it was fantastic. So to all my Alice players, wherever you are now, thank you.
Next time; there’s a caterpillar, a cat, a white rabbit and some excellent photoshopping.
I’m currently scouring all the reference books I used to find the quotes and information to back all this up, but teenage Jemma didn’t reference well. But when I do, I will include a bibliography. In the mean time, there’s loads of articles and you can view the biography online.