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  • Writer's pictureSara Pace

Alice and the Absolem

I have been intrigued by Alice in Wonderland ever since I was a young girl and happened to come across the Disney film being shown on Italian television. Being a Maltese kid in the 90s it was the norm for us to watch TV in Italian - learning the language in the process, and getting to see the latest in Disney films, Japanese cartoons and Art Attack in Italian! Since unfortunately at the time there wasn't much available on Maltese telly (can't say there is much on offer nowadays either, really) - but I am getting side-tracked here. So back to Alice in Wonderland, the Disney film was my first taste of it, and I was hooked; the girl falling through a hole, into a vibrant colourful world with the barking pansies (have called them dog-faced flowers ever since), a talking and smoking caterpillar and a cruel queen was the tops! I am also a big fan of 60's music and Alice seems to have been a hit back then too - such as Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit' and the Beatles 'I am the Walrus', thus I must say my influence is coming from several different founts of inspiration!

John Tanniel's Alice

I was (and still am) an avid reader, so the next trip I took to the public library, saw me look up Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll and reading it voraciously in one day! I ended up reading it several times over, before I had to regrettably relinquish it to the public library (admittedly after a number of letters stating that my book was overdue). Alice seemed to become a symbol of who I am, a curious person, ready to try most things at least once. As well as identifying with the White Rabbit on more than one occasion (I am known for being late most of the time, and always worrying that I'm late - but never managing to be fully on time anyhow) ((to the point that even my car's clock has started going forward by half an hour on its own since the new year)). So back to Alice and her influence on me, I have painted Alice in Wonderland themed works on a number of occasions, both metaphorically and directly referencing the films/book (as you can see above). I have quite the collection of old and new prints of the original book, as well as books on the artworks done by the first artists to illustrate the book, such as John Tenniel and Arthur Rackham, you may find more info here.

So why am I writing about Alice in Wonderland in this blog post? Earlier in February this year, a friend and lecturer of mine, Gorg Mallia, posted an image on facebook showcasing his first year students' work on an assignment he'd given them to re interpret Alice in Wonderland. As soon as I saw it I was in love with the work presented, little did I need the prompting by Simon Callus (fellow MFA colleague) to do our own reinterpretation! This led to two weeks of sketching and reinterpreting an idea I got while invigilating a form 1 English Language exam at the school where I work at. The work was completed in pencil, watercolour and photomontage with digital painting. In a way I am still mulling to do it in other ways, but maybe more on that soon! In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy this work :)

The idea was developed after reading this excerpt from The Nursery "Alice":

"And do you see its long nose and chin?

At least, they look exactly like a nose and chin, don’t they?

But they really are two of its legs.

You know a Caterpillar has got quantities of legs: you can see some more of them, further down."

So here are the works:

Alice and the Absolem - sketch in pencil

Alice and the Absolem - Watercolour painting

Alice and the Absolem - Photomontage and digital painting

Your comments and thoughts are always very much appreciated!

Till the next one

Sara xx

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