My husband – yes there is still a novel roll of the tongue each time I saw this, barely 7 months into our marriage – has promised to book us tickets for the 3D IMAX experience of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice’, on the next available day he has off from shooting the film he is working on.
Helena Bonham Carter is a local resident and someone who though I love styling, I am glad doesn’t use one: her off-kilter reworkings of the Dior 1947 silhouette are gloriously garish in a world of good taste, I would mourn their passing, were she to change. I love too, the idea of her, Tim and their children living in close proximity, sharing our air and views, with their lives of make-believe and creative dreams. Were we to one day to become friends, I would naturally invite her to our allotment for a lunch of salad leaves and tomatoes, perhaps there we might catch a view of the running rabbit…
Alice is a girl for all times: the pre-pubescent questing naughty know-it-all at the dawn of her womanhood, the light side of the Poltergeist looking glass: searching for answers to the changes in her physicality and surroundings from riddles; beset by ever-shifting realities and confronting the maturising truth. These trials are at the root of all rite of passage quests, from the Odyssey to Oz: that people and life is not as they seem, we cannot trust everyone. Sometimes we have to step off the path ( the consistent Fairy Tale motif) to find the answers to our questings and questions.
I have grabbed together some of my favourite Alice images, I hope you shall enjoy them too. Have a lovely weekend/Mother’s Day!
Arthur Rackham is a huge influence on me: I love his sombre palette, weaving magic from dismal tones of Autumn malaise, he somehow manifests the eeriness of half-recollected dreams. A shoot I styled for Purple once, was completely referenced in his work, and though that reference might not be obvious in the result, it laid a foundation baseline of colours and shapes for me to work with.
The first Alice illustrations were by John Tenniel: she looks a very moody girl!
Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Alice’ was a gold dust filmic find one night at the Scala when I was an undergraduate at UCL.
Jan’s take on Alice, echoes the work of that other famous Czech also called Jan, who I was lucky enough to work with once in Prague, Jan Saudek. Czech was once called Bohemia: the essence of eccentricity is at the heart of their very DNA.
I shot a story once with Serge Leblon, where he built an Alice set in his sitting room in Brussels: a mousehole gap between two worlds, sprinkled with muddy earth, mushrooms from the local gourmet shop, as Alice tore through, her red shoes and half her torso left on our side of the page. I wish I could find it now, perhaps she is having too much fun on the other side of the Looking Glass…
A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July–
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear–
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream–
Lingering in the golden gleam–
Life, what is it but a dream?