Alice speaks those words in Wonderland- and they're quite apt for a strap-line for the exhibition I'm all-about curating right now. So, I thought we'd take a little break from all our hard-work demystifying that clever old Dodgson, and instead just feast our eyes upon some of the many Illustrators of 'Alice' that are coming up to span a hundred and fifty years!
After all, your Grand-mother is simply being inspired by Lewis Carroll herself and responding- and these fantastic Illustrators have been commissioned and then inspired themselves to interpret the story visually. I must say, that they had a difficult task- as all have had to follow Tenniel's very strongly intertwined work that sits so closely with the text it's pretty impossible to forget them when creating a character.
They are all unquestionably quite beautiful work- and an added dimension is that they record the style of their time, each decade of Alice shows a new hairstyle for instance.
It has been a delight taking a first edition of each one, scanning the photos and then blowing them up- seeing them all side by side and out of their books- sets them into a quite different context and they truly are pictures that demand conversation...
Here Emily is a little selection of my favourites in my favourite 'beach setting', with a little about the artist under each one so you can learn too.
Raphael Tuck 1926
Little is known about A L Bowley, although first editions of her 'Alice are highly collectable. Here is a world view diametrically opposite to that of her contemporary Gwynedd Hudson- this is a place without shadows. Cartoon figures and primary colours depict a place where the sun always shines!
Rene Cloke ( 1905-1995 )
Rene Cloke was born in Plymouth and much of her work was producing postcards and greetings cards. Her book illustrations too are in classic 1940's style. This is work from and for the nursery, her playful depictions of children's toys and child-like animals really set her apart from other illustrators.
Charles Folkard ( 1878-1963 )
A & C Black, 1921
Folkard was the creator of a comic mouse cartoon, Teddy Tail. Predating Disney by ten years. His sense of humour is also seen in the sumptuous colour plates he produced for the gift books so popular in the Edwardian age, a market snuffed out by the Great War.
Helen Oxenbury ( 1938- )
Walker Books 2005
Oxenbury won acclaim for her edition of Alice in Wonderland (Walker, 1999). It is described as "More abundantly illustrated than previous editions ... Alice herself is a child of today – casually dressed, personable and spirited."Alice was named one of the top ten Greenaway Medal-winning works in 2007.
Mervyn Peake (1911- )
Peake was a man who had experienced the death camps of Nazi Germany, and was himself prey to a debilitating illness which eventually reduced him to creative silence. His world is a truly sinister place.
Peake himself wrote of Tenniel " He is embedded in the very fabric of childhood memories."
For me Emily- he has not gone against the ghost of inspiration from Tenniel, and yet has managed to create a signature of his own with them, one that is sympathetic yet 'Peaked' if you understand me!
Arthur Rackham ( 1867-1939 )
This sumptuous edition was released the year that copyright expired on Tenniel's editions.
Rackham set the story in his own distinct imaginative universe, by turns magical, threatening and comic-his Alice is knowing and in total control, until beset by a pack of flying cards.
Harry Rowntree ( 1878-1950 )
The Children's Press
Harry Rountree came to London from New Zealand in 1901. His 1908 Alice in Wonderland, with 90+ color plates, is considered to be both his masterpiece and one of the definitive versions of the Carroll classic. For me, the illustrations give a clear marketable departure from Tenniel's over-riding influence, and somewhere for Disney to sraw their own inspirations from.
Ralph Steadman ( 1936- )
Steadman's satirical take on Alice was published at the height of the 'Swinging Sixties', a time when Victoriana was being rediscovered and mocked. Steadman's savage penmanship, all blots and spikes, spirits into being a world where certanties are dissolving, and the past is weird and unknowable.
Alice B Woodward ( 1862-1951 )
Alice Bolinbroke Woodward was born in Chelsea, and her Father Henry was a leading scientist of the time. Woodward's precocious ability in art and privately funded Artistic education enabled her to practise and hone her skills early on. She illustrated her Father's work too- and hence her fantasy illustrations are marked by their attention to detail and draughtsmanship.
Anthony Browne ( 1946- )
Julia MacRae Books 1988
Children's Laureate Browne gives us a flattened perspective, heightened reality and surrealistic Alice.
Which one do you like best Emily? When you come down for your Book Launch, you will see tons more! I'm still a Tenniel purist, but who couldn't fall in love with each of these illustrators charming and distinctive styles?
Night night my little one, sleep well and dream of technicolour turtles!
Your ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxx
I do not make claim on the copy-right of these images. They belong to their own copyright companies. These are re-produced from first edition books that I own or have been lent for the exhibition only and as an education aid. Please do not reproduce elsewhere.