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THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS AT ARTSCIENCE MUSEUM

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 23 Apr 2019  


In Lewis Carroll’s Victorian-era drawing room, an unassuming study desk forms the focal point from which all other activity unfolds: framed photographs are set against floral wallpaper-pressed walls; objects and ephemera sit on proud display under sallow lights, and two nondescript doors beckon the way forward.

But first, have your Lost Map of Wonderland scanned to reveal your play-character for the length of the exhibition; one of four archetypal characters from the novel, whether the oddly lovable Cheshire Cat or the rather dotty Mad Hatter.

This is Wonderland at ArtScience Museum – and you’ve just gained privy to the Drawing Room, the first of ten zones through which Alice in Wonderland has been reimagined. Here’s everything to expect from the travelling exhibition, developed by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and told through over 300 artefacts and objects.

 

Choose your path

Drawing Room Wonderland

Lewis Carroll was in fact a pen name adopted by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – whose time in Christ Church College at Oxford University inspired the 1865 novel.

Pick a door in the Drawing Room, then step (or crawl) into the Hallway of Doors, where surprises await within each room. That includes original letters, contracts and books leading to the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, whose protagonist was shaped around Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church College.

Wonderland

Throughout, look out for stations marked by symbols – a paw, or an illustration of Alice – then use your map to uncover Easter eggs such as character sketches and magic lantern slides, the latter of which you’ll discover more of in The Pool of Tears
 

Whimsical experimentations

Wonderland

Four original costumes from NBC’s Alice Through the Looking Glass House (1966) take centre stage in Looking Glass House, flanked by masks, props, set drawings and extracts from various movie scripts. The gallery comes together to highlight key moments from film and television of the ’30s and ’80s, including examinations into the techniques behind live action filmmaking.

Wonderland
Image: Phoebe Powell for Wonderland, ACMI


If you’ve kids in tow, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill will likely excite them far more. Oversized chairs, puppets and fascinating set pieces from Jan Svanmajer’s Alice (1988) and the Quay Brothers’ Alice in Not So Wonderland (2007) are on display alongside early stop-motion techniques.


Digital playground


Paint the Queen’s roses red – or risk a beheading! – in The Queen’s Croquet Ground, where visitors are invited to create card soldiers that are then brought to life on a facing wall.
 
Wonderland
Image: Anne Moffatt for Wonderland, ACMI


The exhibition culminates in the very Mad Tea Party, one in which (unfortunately for the Mad Hatter) all guests are welcome. 
 
Wonderland


Admire scenes from past Alice film adaptations projected on plates, but try not to squirm as ants go marching up the table – and resist reaching for the jellied, layered, creamed platters of desserts, even as your sense of wonder expands in this make-believe universe. Digital creatives Grumpy Sailor developed the immersive experience, down to the giant mushrooms that sprout against a lush backdrop of endless greenery.

When you're done, adjourn to FUTURE WORLD: Where Art Meets Science next door for yet more immersive digital art, this time by Japanese collective teamLab. It's here that waterfalls part at your feet, sketched cars come to life, and a crystal universe twinkles and dances to a set soundtrack, giving the effect of walking through an infinite cosmos. 


Wonderland at ArtScience Museum runs from 13 April to 22 Sep 2019. Tickets and details this way.

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