15 July - 01 November 2015
Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Cheshire Cat were introduced to the world by Lewis Carroll in 1865 in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A sequel, Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found introduced more memorable characters including the Jabberwock, Humpty Dumpty, the Walrus and the Carpenter and the Kings, Queens and Knights of the chessboard.
For 150 years the curious creatures from Carroll’s topsy-turvy world have been part of popular culture the world over, not just in books, plays and films, toys, games and millions of products from food to clothing but also in – cartoons!
This is hardly surprising since when Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) was seeking an illustrator for Alice he chose John Tenniel, the leading cartoonist of his day, whose caricatures of Victorian politicians and celebrities appeared every week in the pages the humorous magazine, Punch.
The Alice books are a true collaboration between Dodgson’s extraordinary imagination and Tenniel’s graphic wit: for example, the Hatter’s iconic top hat with it’s pre-decimal price label (‘In this Style, 10/6’) was just one of Tenniel’s many embellishments to Dodgson’s text.
The stories were an instant success as were the illustrations and within a very short time people were using the characters and their quotable lines to make satirical comment on current affairs. Even John Tenniel created a topical cartoon for Punch based on his own illustration of Alice’s encounter with the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle.
Alice in Cartoonland celebrates Alice’s many misadventures at the hands of cartoonists, caricaturists and satirists, animators and graphic artists through 150 years of parodies and pastiches, jibes, jokes and gags aimed at making political points, social comment or just intended to make us laugh.
Artists represented range from Low, Vicky, Shepard and Illingworth to via Searle and ffolkes to Scarfe, Steadman and Rowson. There are Alice posters by Gilroy advertising Guinness, cartoon strips featuring Flook and Snoopy, pages from comics and graphic novels and original animation art from film and TV versions of Alice.