Watched -Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Posted in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, period drama, WATCHED with tags , , , , on March 13, 2010 by echostains

A new grown up Alice

I got to watch Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 3D the other night.  I’d never seen a film in 3D before, so didn’t really have a clear idea of what to expect or what to compare it to.  I’m also a big fan of the Alice books, so I was hoping that I wasn’t going to be disappointed.

Drink me at your peril

Alice (played by Mia Wasikowska) is now nineteen penniless and Fatherless.  She is in line to marry an upper class buffoon, but is preoccupied with visions of the white rabbit and dreams of Wonderland.  It seems that she has some unfinished business there.  A party is held to cement the engagement (it seems a forgone conclusion that Alice will accept, given her circumstances).  Everyone waits with bated breath to hear Alice’s acceptance. Unfortunately, the wayward Alice catches sight of the white rabbit again and speeds off after it, down the rabbit hole and back into Wonderland.  Here Alice shrinks and expands with much alacrity – and good effect.

the brave Hatter – mad of course

Wonderland is not as she left it though, there has been much trouble since Alice the child left.  The nineteen year old Alice has grown up and is accused of losing her muchness by all and sundry.  In fact she has a job to convince everyone that she is indeed the original Alice.  Everyone seems madder including the Hatter (played by Depp with suitable madness).  Tweedledum and Tweedledee are both Matt Lucas – only much rounder.  the Bandersnatch is made much of (probably because he is linked in the Jabberwocky poem).  The Jabberwock itself is horrifying and hideous and rather dragon like.  Therefore there an inevitable George and the Dragon scenario ensues with Alice as St………Joan not George.  Curiouser and curiouser…..

Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum double trouble

Wonderland and Looking glass collide and we have the caterpillar stoned out of his very blue head and Dinah the Cheshire cat a wispy vaporising vision.  Watching this in 3D, I was amazed when this grinning feline seemed to come right out of the screen and into the audience!  It seemed so near that you could almost touch it.  There are a few of these little projections – but not too many to spoil the film.

the grinning cheshire cat

I’ve never seen anything in 3D before apart from ‘life’, so I didn’t know what to expect.  But overall I found the film quite entertaining.  Some of the special effects are great and I especially like the way that the Victorian Alice proved herself independent in her thinking.  The story itself left me dissatisfied though and perhaps this was because it is childhood tale taken into adulthood – an adult in a childs world.  Maybe this was deliberate on Burton’s part, to make Alice seem ungainly.  As it is, Alice doesn’t really fit into either world – Wonderland or her real life.

the Red Queen

Bonham Carter is a spoilt nasty cruel little Queen, the exact opposite to her sister the white Gaga like queen who is frankly, just ‘odd’ and a little to like Glinda the good queen out of the Wizard of Oz for my liking.  Yes, there is some Lewis Carroll in this film, but I think in order to avoid disappointment, accept that though there are various components and characters from the books – this is no fairytale or literal translation of Carroll’s books.  once you have accepted that, it’s time to put your 3D glasses on, lie back and enjoy this film!

her sister the white queen

Some images HERE

Mad March and rabbits too

Posted in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, ART, HISTORY, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, period drama with tags , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by echostains

'Spar' and 'Dancer' sculptures by Jan Sweeney

It may be March 1st when I’m writing this – but it will be March 2nd when you read it as I always schedule my posts and I’d forgotten all about St Davids Day.  No point of celebrating it now (those ancestors will be spinning in their graves, along with St Andrew and St Casimir).

the white rabbit by Tenniel

When I think of March 1st (which I obviously did – but too late)  I always think of white rabbits.  We were always told that it was lucky to say ‘white rabbits’ three times when we woke on the 1st day of March.  But why?

There are many variations on ‘White rabbit, white rabbit’ white rabbit’ all mentioned in an interesting article in Wikipedia.  It does get a bit complicated, but the rabbit tradition seems to have travelled all over the world;

“In some areas in Georgia, particularly in the Atlanta area, many people have begun saying “wabbit wabbit” as another variation.” (Wikipedia) 

The mad March hare with straw (a sign of madness) on his head

The wonderfully mad March hare in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is another reminder of this month…and the Tim Burton film.  The hare cannot keep still in the story and is full of energy.

In real life he’s not much different either (though he’s not drinking tea…) he is leaping, twitching and boxing other hares in an overly excited way.  Is it a coincidence that hare’s mating season begins February and carries on until September?   Perhaps they’re at their most erratic in March?

a baby moon gazing hare garden ornament

A lot of hare sculptures are depicted as gazing at the moon.  Pagans believed that a hare staring at the moon brought fertility, regrowth and rebirth.  the hare is sacred to the goddess Eostre which gives her name to Easter and of course the reincarnation of the hare into the Easter bunny!

William Morris tapestry

I won’t be caught out again with my white rabbits (the same applies to every month).  Also, forewarned is forearmed and I shall be looking out for the Ides of March (15th ) too ……..

My latest poem experiment here… ‘Three For March’ Haiku

Jane Sweeney sculptures here

Moon gazing hare garden ornament available from here


Teapots – all things Alice

Posted in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, ART, DESIGN, TEAPOTS - A HOMAGE TO UNUSUAL TEAPOTS with tags , , , , on February 28, 2010 by echostains

 Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ film  is released March 5 this year and from  this clip,  it looks a lot of fun.  I’m not keen on Alice’s off the shoulder dress though – is there any need really?  The visual effects look very interesting though.  I found the floating Cheshire cats floating head on the trailer quite frightening.  But so it is in the book, as it fades away and only the grin is left.


Surprised to see Tweedle dum and Tweedle dee in the new film though as they are charaters  from Alice though the Looking Glass.   So it would seem that both books and characters have been lumped together.  But, back to the teapots.  It is easy to see why the teapot  serves as a vehicle to Alice. The teapot is central to the tea-party where we get to meet some interesting characters – especially the Mad Hatter.

I actually have this Tony Woods teapot

  I love the wild Mad Hatter teapot by Paul Cardew.  Cardew seems very fond of Alice – he’s done lots of teapots with using the Alice theme.

Paul Cardew MadHatter Teapot

Paul Cardew Alice teapot

I’ve cheated really with this image.  It’s actually a favor box and I think it’s lovely!  Available  HERE  

favor box


This unusual teapot has ‘Drink Me’ on the side – obvious really!  But I like the reference to the time on the lid and the hearts on the handle.

drink me teapot

My latest poem is ‘Her Facebook has it ‘ here

Lots of Alice porcelain HERE

White Drink me teapot link here

Teapots teapots website

The art of Alice through the looking glass

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, DESIGN, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , , , , on February 7, 2010 by echostains

Sir John Tenniel

I love the illustrations of Alice in Wonderland and Alice’s adventures through the looking Glass.  The original Tenniel ones have a charm all of their own and are the ones I remember the most from childhood.  There is  such a lot of information contained in these small drawings and Sir John Tenniel’s style once seen, is unmistakable.

Alice entering the looking glass world by Sir John Tenniel

Tenniel also illustrated for Punch magazine for a  while and did some political sketches like the example below. Amazingly this fine illustrator was blind in one eye. 

Punch magazine william gladstone and the irish land question

Another illustrator that I quite like is Ralph Steadman (b. Wallasey 1936O). Of course these two  artists are from different era’s, but I quite like the clear lines of Steadman’s work, it’s so very stylish.   He has tried to add something new to these well-loved characters – yet he has still made them recognisable.

Ralph Steadman 1972

There is yet another Alice illustrator that I like – one of my favorite authors and who I am re reading at the moment, and that’s Mervyn Peake (b. China 1911-1968). It’s interesting to see the styles of these artists, and how they differ in their original approach to the same subject matter though each working in different eras.

Mervyn Peake 1954

Ralph Steadman’s website HERE

Other Alice illustrator’s HERE

Book Graveyard: They are not Dead, They are only Sleeping

Posted in BOOKS! DEAR READER I READ IT, DESIGN, WEIRD AND WACKY DESIGN with tags , , , on November 3, 2009 by echostains

people stocking up on free books abandoned by Amazon second hand book suppliers Feb 2009 Bristol

Free books!  In February this years people filled their socks  and anything else they had on them with second-hand books from an Amazon abandoned warehouse!  Read the story HERE

Books, books, books!  I have books piled up all over the place.  I have too many books.  I’ve sold some, given  some away, but still I have mountains of books.  I have bookshelves.  But those are filled, so books are crammed into the gaps!  Up in the loft space, I have shelves of books and books stacked up on top of each other.  I once tried to create some kind of order, even catalogue them…but I gave up in the end.  Much as I love books, I couldn’t help admire some of these ideas of about what to do with surplus books.

one page makes you smaller...

I am torn, on the one hand I do think it a bit sacrilegious to deface books, kind of Orwell’s 1984  (says I merrily tearing, painting and snipping away at my altered book…) but on the other hand, look how innovative the Alice in Wonderland one is!  I think that if you are going to deface a book with what looks suspiciously like Tenniel illustrations… remove them first and replace with a photocopy.  Still torn though….. and so is the book..

tea party madness, whatever did they put in the tea?

I rather like the book room though!  No defacing and practical, a cosy little den to read in, surrounded by books.  Of course you would have had to make sure you had already read all the building books: it just wouldn’t do to pull one out would it…

if there was just some way of making a roof..this would be so cosy

I think these framed 3D pieces are lovely.  It’s a good job they are  behind recessed glass. If not, they would collect a lot of dust.   They have collage elements, that remind me of Dada photomontage  artist Hannah Hoch 1889 -1978.  Read about this famous Dada artist and about her place in the Weimar Republic.  Read  a brief history of Photomontage HERE

book carvings

HERE is the website these books came from, along with many other ideas about what to do with your books!  A rather good idea that I came up with is to actually read them!  Innovative eh!