While I loved Alice in Wonderland as a kid, I still identify with her story as an adult. I took Miss 11 and her friend to see the ACMI Alice in Wonderland exhibition yesterday.
The exhibition is timed, so I booked online for 11am – a perfectly civilised school holidays time to be in the city. But we were slightly late. I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. Oh, the irony in being late white rabbit style! But it didn’t matter at all, and we were ushered down the rabbit hole for a wonderful display of the various different ways Alice has been depicted from the publication of Lewis Carroll’s book in 1865 to the 21st century.
Our favourite section was the Mad Hatter’s tea party. The ten minute wait was worth it – we sat on white wooden chairs around a cluster of white tables with white crockery. We watched a four minute film which was shown on the surrounding walls of the room, as well as the table and crockery. There were quotes from the book, scenes of dreamlike images and the crockery kept changing patterns.
I flicked through my copy of Alice at home and found some of my favourite quotes –
“Who are YOU?” said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
Sometimes it seems that when I wake up in the morning I know exactly who I am and what I need to do but by the end of the day, I may have turned into several different people! One moment I am a writer merging two chapters into one, the next minute I am a mother organising playdates, then I have morphed into an uber driver, a chef, a workshop presenter …
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
It’s not the believing that’s tricky – it’s the achieving! Dreaming up six impossible things before a breakfast green smoothie is fine – it’s getting them done that’s the challenge.
The ACMI exhibition is on until October 7th – it’s definitely worth a visit, both for children and adults. Miss 11 and her friend enjoyed following the Wonderland map for the curious and finding all the links, and I enjoyed all the displays of the art, costumes and history.
Curioser and curioser!