The V&A is bringing to life the wonderful adventures of Alice, the girl who fell down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by all kinds of peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. Exploring its origins and reinventions over the 158 years since it was first published, this landmark exhibition offers an immersive journey through Alice’s Wonderland.

    Over 300 objects spanning film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography, have been brought together to fully explore the cultural impact of Alice and her ongoing inspiration for leading creatives, from Salvador Dalí to The Beatles. Designed by award-winning Tom Piper – best known for his stage designs for the Royal Shakespeare Company and his Tower of London poppies installation

    – the exhibition rewards “curiouser and curiouser” visitors with secret doors and interactive displays. Beginning with a descent into the V&A’s subterranean Sainsbury Gallery via an interpretation of the famous rabbit hole, the first section of the exhibition, Creating Alice, traces Alice’s origins in Victorian Oxford, uncovering the people, politics and places that inspired Lewis Carroll, including original drawings by his friend, John Tenniel.

    A mind-bending visual experience will take place at a Mad Hatter’s tea party, brought to life through psychedelic and playful digital projections…

    Mad Hatter costume designed by Colleen Atwood for Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, worn by Johnny Depp (c) 2010 Disney.

    Filming Alice covers the creative development of Alice on screen throughout the 20th and 21st centuries from the earliest film based on the books in 1903, to Walt Disney’s version and Tim Burton’s 2010 blockbuster. Reimagining Alice celebrates reinventions of Wonderland by Salvador Dalí, Yayoi Kusama, Max Ernst and Peter Blake as well as the music of The Beatles. A mind-bending visual experience will take place at a Mad Hatter’s tea party, brought to life through psychedelic and playful digital projections.

    Staging Alice explore the popularity of the books among the performing arts, with customes from international productions alongside the National Theatre’s wonder.land, which explored the boundaries of online and offline, as well as Bob Crowley’s towering costume for the Queen of Hearts from the Royal Ballet’s 2011 production.

    Alice at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Illustration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by John Tenniel, 1865 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

    The final section Being Alice analyses the modern-day fascination and reinvention of Alice in Wonderland across art, science and popular culture. It features fashion collections from Iris van Herpen and Viktor & Rolf, photo- graphs of political protests, album artwork for Little Simz, and Japanese sub-culture fashion. The exhibition closes with a newly commissioned “through the looking glass-inspired” digital art installation.

    ALICE: CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER
    The Sainsbury Gallery. V&A London.
    Until 31st December 2021

    Words: Lavinia Dickson-Robinson

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