Talking Culture: Alice In Wonderland at The V&A 

Posted by Beth Pickard on

As Truly Alice is an ongoing successful collection for us at Talking Tables, I was keen to visit this exhibition – delayed from 2020.

The exhibition exceeded my expectations in its breadth and relevance to today’s social causes (challenging authority; female empowerment; being curious as an attribute and even the current vogue for alice head bands..).

The initial rooms opened with how the author, Charles Dodgson had told the story to his neighbour’s young girls on a sunny afternoon of rowing. The neighbour’s daughter, Alice Liddell, begged him to turn it into a story book which he did under the name of Lewis Carroll. He collaborated with the illustrator, Tenniel, who had also done work for Punch magazine. As a true polymath, these early rooms shared with us Dobson’s interests in maths, theatre, science, and art which become  mirrored in the story of Alice in Wonderland via the dodo, telescope, numbers and so on.

The mantra for curiosity, independence and learning has engaged many other fields which were reflected in the exhibition, including:

  • Surrealists, such as Max Ernst and Salvar Dali.
  • Sixties artists such as Peter Blake
  • Films including, of course, Disney, but also the likes of Jonathan Miller. We saw some very early movie clips from 1930’s.
  • Fashion designers such as Vivienne Westwood
  • Chefs such as Heston Blumental
  • And some much more contemporary photography inspired by the Mad Hatter’s tea party. 

I left excited that characters such as Charles Dobson, fittingly in the grand Victorian building of the V&A Museum, remain relevant today to so many.

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