LOOKING IN WONDERLAND: A Special Summer Exhibition at The Alfred East Art Gallery

Published: Thursday, 19th July 2018

Our newest exhibition runs Saturday 21st July – Saturday 25th August

Some of the most famous illustrations in the world will be brought to Kettering this Summer. A selection of the best of Sir John Tenniel's illustrations to Lewis Carroll's two Alice books - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there (1872) - will be on show at the The Alfred East Gallery from Saturday 21st July – Saturday 25th August 2018.

John Tenniel spent all of his life in London where he worked as a political cartoonist for Punch magazine, but in 1864 he was approached by Lewis Carroll (an Oxford mathematics don whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) with the request to illustrate a small nonsense book for children he wished to publish.

The initial story had been made up by Dodgson for the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church College during a boating trip on 4 July 1862, and at the request of one of them, Alice Liddell, he wrote out the story of the little girl who dreamt (or did she ?) that she went down a rabbit hole into Wonderland where she met an amazing set of characters - the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the King and Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Cheshire Cat - and found herself in some awfully weird situations.

The story - published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - was an instant hit with children and adults alike - as was the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there published seven years later. From the very start it was agreed that a major part of their success was due to the unique and imaginative illustrations supplied to the text by John Tenniel and despite there now being many hundreds of artists worldwide who have illustrated Alice, Tenniel's illustrations remain the definitive ones.

The exhibition on show at The Alfred East Gallery is a selection of the best illustrations from both books (about half of the complete number) in which the creative genius of both Carroll and Tenniel is shown at its best. The original drawings were made on wooden blocks and then engraved by commercial engravers in London and the prints on show – printed directly from these blocks - are perfect examples of the skill of both illustrator and engraver.

Guy Holloway, Head of Corporate & Cultural Services at Kettering Borough Council, said:

“The Alfred East Art Gallery is yet again proving its significance and good connections by showcasing the famous illustrator Sir John Tenniel known for his portray of Alice in the Lewis Carroll’s books. This is a privileged opportunity for people in the area to see these stunning pieces of art for free, so do come along this summer.” 

Cllr Scott Edwards, Kettering Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure & Youth, said:

“We’re delighted to be hosting some of the most famous illustrations by Sir John Tenniel that appeared in Lewis Carroll's Alice books. This exhibition brings a stunning collection of artwork to the Alfred East Art Gallery, all available to view for free.”

The exhibition, LOOKING IN WONDERLAND, will be on show at The Alfred East Art Gallery, Sheep Street, Kettering, Northamptonshire, NN16 0AN, from Saturday, 21st July – Saturday, 25th August 2018. For further information contact the gallery on 01536 534274 or email museumandgallery@kettering.gov.uk