22 May 2016

When I think of Lego I think of constructing Lego Star Wars Death Stars or Lego Mobile Police Units, but the company has now branched out into producing "girl" toys I'm not very keen on such sexist ideas but I suppose they know what suits their business.

One of their latest productions is Alice in Wonderland. So go here to see how to start constructing Alice's story out of Lego!
29 April 2016

The Mad Hatter's topper is instantly recognisable, but what about the other characters' hats? The Tweedles, above, wore the kind of hats which were popular leisure wear with young men - the kind of thing to wear with white flannels when out on a boat on the river, for instance. (Perhaps Dodgson himself wore one on his boating trips.) Later, the caps were adopted for schoolboys such as William Brown (Just William - click on this link to see him wearing one).

Get Your Thinking Caps On" is an inspired-by-Alice competition being run by Guildford Borough Council, whose heritage services department is staging an Alice Day on August 7th this year. It is free, and takes place in the grounds of Guildford Castle on Sunday 7 August, from 11am -4pm.

"After more than 150 years wearing the same old thing isnít it time they deserved something new to wear?" they ask. "And some of the characters donít have hats. Donít they deserve one?"

Contestants can choose from one of the following characters and give them something new to wear.

1: Alice. Spruce up a brand new hair band for Alice to wear to a special tea party

2: The Hatter. Make the Hatter happy with a decorative new topper

3: The White Rabbit. He is always late and doesnít have a hat. Design a hat to help the White Rabbit be more punctual

4: The Dormouse. He keeps falling asleep, and doesnít have a hat. Create a hat design to help the Dormouse stay awake

There are three age groups:
7years and younger (specify age)
8-10 years and
11-13 years

Children should send their design in to the address on the entry form (click here to get one, and for more informationn.) They can send a painting, drawing, or collage, and they're asked to include some information about the materials that might be used to make the head band or hat Ė and of course any special powers it has and how these work.

All the designs will be entered in a competition. The winners and their guests will be invited to a special tea party in Guildford Castle on 7 August, and they'll also be presented with a certificate by the Mayor of Guildford.

The closing date for entries 18 July 2016, and there is plenty of time!

Personally I like this best of the many crazy hats I have seen lately, it is light hearted and fun and I like its simplicity. Do you think it was done with straws?

(It is from familyfun.go.com, and the artwork at the top of this post is by Blue Stevens Ėbased on original illustrations by John Tenniel )

15 April 2016

Ambient experimental musician Matt Chopin has been creating music based on Alice in Wonderland. Matt was raised next to a cemetery and started off writing classical music, but moved on to ambient music. (If you don't know what that is, it's defined "as a style of gentle, largely electronic instrumental music with no persistent beat, used to create or enhance a mood or atmosphere." )

See what you think, - the music is on his website here.
18 February 2016

I've been away doing a lot of travelling to various places. One of them was Walt Disney World, in Florida, where the Electrical Parade in Magic Kingdom had a specially impressive Caterpillar on his mushroom, I thought...

And you can spot Alice here.... sorry it's a bit blurry but hey, it was dark!

I've also been contacted during my absence by Julian Yanover, who has put a really useful archive of Carroll's poems online, here. It's surprisingly hard to find all of these together online, and so the page should be a useful resource for Carrollians.

Finally, I saw a wonderful edition of Alice in Wonderland in Dutch. It came out last year, to celebrate Alice 150, but I didn't get around to mentioning it at the time.

It's visually really beautiful, created in an Arts and Crafts style by artist Floor Rieder. So far I haven't seen an English version, but here's a photo of the cover and one of the interior pages.

In Dutch the title is "De avonturen van Alice in Wonderland en in Spiegelland." If you're a collector, you may well want to look it out, as it is an exceptionally interesting volume.
24 January 2016

I love animation, so find this little video the most intriguing aspect of Damon Albarn's musical wonder.land, currently on at the National Theatre in London. It ends in April, and I still haven't decided whether to spend the large amount of money it costs to go to the performance, when there are so many other demands on my time in the coming months .... but I'm more inclined to include wonder.land in my plans after reading Chloe Llewellyn's script review of it! Take a look. here (WARNING: SPOILERS!)

Chloe has a great Alice site on tumblr - so do take a look if you are interested in resources about Alice.

08 January 2016
No words needed...

19 December 2015

Really so excited to have heard an advance recording of a brand new version of Carroll's HUNTING OF THE SNARK - the best one I have encountered. It captures so much of the comical, sinister ambiguity of the original, and I'm so pleased the BBC can still commission stuff like this. It will air for the first time on Christmas Day 2015 at 2.15 PM. I hope you get the chance to listen to it on the day, but if not, then it'll be on iPlayer afterwards. Here's the link....

The picture at the top is one of Henry Holliday's illustrations, and the one at the bottom is the Lambton Worm, which is popularly supposed to be the model for the Jabberwock. I myself always think the Snark must have looked like that, though.
14 December 2015

The Lewis Carroll Society has a party each year, and this year, 12th December was the night. It really was fun, and the atmosphere seemed particularly cheerful and friendly. Our new venue, upstairs in the Bloomsbury premises of the Art Worker's Guild, worked out so well. Previously, we've been downstairs in a rather dramatically decorated crimson-walled room, but it has always seemed rather too large and imposing for comfort. This time we had two interconnected period rooms, with cabinets displaying wonderful examples of Guild members' work. (Do click here if you want to find out more about the Art Workers' Guild).

This year we had a magician on the premises, too - David Weeks. He opened the proceedings by blowing up a balloon ...

which then magically transformed itself into a bottle of wine - undoubtedly the right way round to do this trick.

People have all kinds of different reasons for being interested in Lewis Carroll or Alice. Some members of the Society are collectors, others are artists, mathematicians, writers or academics. This year, many of the guests seemed to be involved in creative industries in one way or another.

This is Brian Sibley
, the Society's president. He is a prolific writer and broadcaster who was was behind the recent Alice in Cartoonland show at the Cartoon Gallery and is involved in many aspects of literary and popular culture.

Performer Kevin Moore has a one man show about Lewis Carroll but despite this managed to win the prize for getting fewest correct answers in the Quiz - which he was perfectly delighted with - and it was a very nice little book called WHAT WOULD ALICE DO? a book of wise advice taken from Alice herself.

(As the author of the quiz, I was a bit discomfited that everyone found it so hard ...

I think this puzzled lady costermonger, (who actually did quite well), would agree that I don't have much of a future as a pub quizmaster).

We also welcomed Vanessa Tait, who is a descendant of Alice Liddell. Vanessa read from her book The Looking Glass House and chatted with Brian about why and how she wrote it.

The extracts that Vanessa read were vividly imagined,and of course she has an almost unique perspective to the subject, since until 2001 many of the original relics of Alice in Wonderland were kept in her own home as part of the family history. She said that it was after these familiar relics were sold by her mother that she began to feel she wanted to write about the subject.

The picture at the top of this post shows a cake which was - almost - the star of the whole evening. The member who made it, Sarah Jardine Willoughby, is a librarian and has a great interest in the history of children's books - she's co-written a book on that subject, in fact (here). But those in the Lewis Carroll Society associate her with marvellous food.

Queen Victoria was decorating a wonderful confection of chocolate and cranberries, the recipe for which Sarah had created herself. And Vanessa had the task of dividing the cake up.

I sneaked a piece to take home, and wished I'd taken more....

If you're on Facebook, there are more pictures here.
11 December 2015

The Lewis Carroll Society party is tomorrow night, 12 December, at the Art Workers Guild Queen Square, London London WC1N 3AT, beginning at 6.30 PM. Nearest tube is Russell Square (Piccadilly line) or Holborn.
06 December 2015

This beautiful video has won second prize in the British Library Alice's Adventures off the Map 2015 competition, which was staged by the British Library in conjunction with GameCity. It's the third year of a contest for full time UK higher or FE students to create games, digital explorable environments, or interactive fiction based on digitised items from the Library's collection.

Since 2015 was a big year for Alice, there are, of course, some fantastic Alice entries. The first prize winner is "The Wondering Lands of Alice," created by Off Our Rockers from De Montfort University. I love it, but somehow Chris Lonsdale's explorable garden won my heart - it is so beautiful and atmospheric. Chris is also at De Montfort University. Third prize went to a group called Hare Trigger, also from - guess where? De Montfort University. A lesson here perhaps for anyone who wants a course which teaches them to develop games....

You can see all the entries on Youtube; just type in the names. And if you would like to read more about this interesting project, just click this link, or this one.

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