Prepare to make a trip down the rabbit hole later this year as a mind-bending exhibition will hit London.
Over the story’s 158-year history, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has inspired the likes of The Beatles, Walt Disney, Little Simz and Dali. It’s been a favourite of old and young alike, interpreted many times over and spawned countless conversations on mind-bending and hallucinogenic drugs. For a Victorian children’s book it’s really pushed the envelope.
Originally scheduled to arrive this Summer but was postponed due to COVID, you can now join Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter et al at The V&A’s Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition in March 2021. In the words of the White Rabbit himself, it’s set to be “a very important date” indeed.
Through more than 300 objects from film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography, the V&A will be the first museum to explore the cultural impact the book has had. Highlights of the exhibit will include Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript, some of the first illustrations by Disney and the photos of the magical Vogue fashion shoots taken by Tim Walker.
Visitors will be able to experience the mind bending, size shrinking vibes for themselves thanks to the exhibition’s theatrical sets, large-scale digital projections and immersive environments, all courtesy of the hugely talented, award-winning designer Tom Piper, who is best known for his stage designs for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Opera House, and perhaps his most famous and emotive work, the Tower of London poppies installation.
The Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition will read out much like a story itself, with five separate chapters. Beginning with a descent into the V&A’s subterranean Sainsbury Gallery via an actual rabbit hole, the exhibition will immediately transport visitors into an otherworldly experience.
From there, visitors will enter the first section ‘Creating Alice’, which will look back at Alice in Wonderland’s Victorian origins. ‘Filming Alice’ will take a look at Alice on screen throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Even after all this time the story is still one that people want to reinterpret time and time again, from Disney’s giant smoking caterpillar to Tim Burton’s iconic Queen of Hearts played by the captivating Helena Bonham-Carter.
Next up will be ‘Reimagining Alice’, celebrating all the reinventions of the classic character, through work by the likes of Salvador Dalí, Yayoi Kusama, Max Ernst, Peter Blake, and of course, The Beatles. Spoiler alert: expect a psychedelic tea party experience and an invitation to play a game of Flamingo croquet, naturally.
Theatre fans can get lost in the ‘Staging Alice’ section which will explore the book’s adaptations onto stage, from the National Theatre’s wonder.land, to the Royal Ballet’s 2011 production. Just imagine the costumes.
And finally, ‘Being Alice’ will excite fashion enthusiasts, exploring the modern-day fascination and reinvention of Alice in Wonderland across art and pop culture. From Gwen Stefani to P Diddy, Annie Leibovitz to Tim Walker and Naomi Campbell to Adwoa Aboah, we expect this section to be a who’s who of the A list and proof of just how far this children’s book has charmed the world.
Tickets will be available soon so keep checking the V&A website – his is sure to sell out faster than you can say “we’re all mad here.” Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will open Sunday, 27th March 2021. Tickets £20. Children under 12 will go free. A range of other concessions will apply.