Lewis Carroll At The Atkinson

Aice at the Atkinson.jpg

Initial Impressions

Well the long awaited exhibition, ‘Inspired by Alice’, at the Atkinson gallery in Southport has been and gone. It was curated by Joanne Chamberlain We hope you managed to see it. The panorama above gives an idea of how it looked. You entered through a pair of closed curtains rather like Alice’s entrance to the garden.

Once Inside we first noticed the illustrations on the wall of the Cheshire cat in a tree.   With the cat continually appearing and disappearing. In this vein, for the young at heart, there was a table set in the spirit of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party complete with dress-up costumes and murals depicting the participants.


The Exhibits

On a more serious vein, to bring out the ideas based in the title of the exhibition there were various examples of people who had been inspired by Alice.  There were five limited-edition prints by the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), which are part of the twelve illustrations he created for the book Alice published in 1969 by Maecenas Press.  
Other unique items ‘inspired by Alice’ and on loan from the Governing Body of Christchurch, Oxford, included nine Lewis Carroll sketches from 1863-1864 related to the novel, and a chess set handmade by the American artist Margaret (Meg) Emes Chappell  (1952-2001).

Other highlights included a cabinet full of objects lent to the museum by our Margaret Tye.  There were also original sketches by Lewis Carroll, which he drew for “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground”, original wood blocks used for the prints in the book, A copy of  ‘Alice in Wonderland’ signed by John Tenniel, collections of Alice material from the British Library and Macmillan Publishers, and illustrations from contemporary local artists.


Several books were on display, namely Lewis Carroll and Cheshire by Arthur Whimperley published in 1991, and Lewis Carroll Child of the North by Anne Clark Amor published in 1995.  For fans of the Cheshire feline there was also an original illustration of the cat by the famous author Mervyn Peake (1911-1968). 


Modern Inspiration

The ability of Lewis Carroll’s work to inspire the current generation was highlighted by a number of modern media exhibits  ‘inspired by Alice’.  Notable highlights included an oil painting entitled Alice Issues by local artist Lisa Langan, Shelly Allison’s white rabbit and jewellery designed by Trick or Treat Crafts, which were available for sale.  An intriguing piece was by Steven Talbot entitled “The loveliest garden you ever saw” from Down the Rabbit Hole, Alice in Wonderland in which you had to bend down so as to look through a keyhole.