Let us begin – as the King of Hearts instructs us – at the beginning. 


42″ x 20″ – 2016
oil on canvas

The Jabberwocky is an exact reproduction of Tenniel’s monster. Thought to be too frightening at the time for the frontispiece, it remains one of his best known images. My Asian Alice’s crown is made up of plastic figures(toys) largely produced in Asia; they mimic contemporary life in modern western culture and all of it’s current fantasies.


48″ x 48″ – 2014
oil on canvas

The Mad Hatter hard at work in his shop: purveyor of fine hats and garments, his concentration is so intense, he barely notices the disoriented Alice.


48″ x 48″ – 2013
oil on canvas

“Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve changed in the night…..but if I’m not the same, the next question is “who in the world am I?” Aspects of Alice begins with this painting. The intent was to convey Alice’s disoriented state of mind upon finding herself plunged into an unfamiliar world and confronted by its’ strange inhabitants.


42″ x 22″ – 2017
oil on canvas

Two gardeners making a mess of painting white roses red to escape the wrath of the Red Queen.


48″ x 48″ – 2014
oil on canvas

“The great advantage of dinner parties is that it helps you to see your friends. If you want to see a man, offer him something to eat. The same rule with a mouse.”My version of that famous tea party includes the March Hare, the Hatter, Alice, and Alice’s Doppelgänger in the form of a crotchety young woman. “The rudeness was more than she could bear. She got up in disgust and walked off.”


42″ x 48″ – 2018
oil on canvas

“Pipe Dreams”, the final painting in this series, springs from Carroll’s “advice from a caterpillar”

Here, the caterpillar, transformed into the archetypal image of a “Green Man” gives no concrete answers to the parallel Alices…or to us. But there are some paths and avenues he might lead us down – if only we knew how to listen.


48″ x 38″ – 2016
oil on canvas

“I wish I hadn’t cried so much said Alice…..I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears”. That pool of tears became very crowded with the birds and animals that had fallen into it. The Dodo represents Lewis Carroll himself.


48″ x 38″ – 2015
oil on canvas

A double-entendre considering the group! “I’ve a right to think, said Alice…..” “Just about as much right “ said the Duchess, as pigs have to fly”. From Through the Looking Glass, 1872.


50″ x 38″ – 2016
oil on canvas

Inspired by the brothers, Tweedle – enantiomorphs – mirror image forms of each other, Alice’s meeting with them, a monstrous crow, and the White Queen. From Through The Looking Glass, 1872.


48″ x 48″ – 2017
oil on canvas

It is said that John Tenniel and many subsequent illustrators of the Alice books, modeled the Duchess in the story after Margaret, Countess of Carinthia and Tyrol. Born in 1318, she had the reputation of being the ugliest woman in history and was nick-named “Maultasche” which means “pocket-mouth”. I copied Quentin Matsys portrait of her for the Red King in this painting.He was an unusual and highly expressive painter who did not hesitate to make use of stylistic anachronisms, satire, and grotesque facial expression to convey mood and character. This is our shared trait.

As is generally known, Alice’s adventures were “born on a golden afternoon” when the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) took the three young daughters of Dean Liddell of Christchurch,Oxford, on a boating trip up the Thames. Carroll delighted the children by relating Alice’s adventures and eventually promised his favorite, Alice Liddell, to write the story down for her.


Realizing that his own illustrations would not pass muster with a public that had high draughtmanship standards, Carroll sought out John Tenniel, premier cartoonist of the satirical magazine,”Punch”, for the job and the collaboration resulted in the indelible images we know today.


“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was published in 1865 and became an instant success with both critics and public. In the post-Tenniel years, “Alice” and it’s 1872 successor, “Through the Looking Glass” had attracted literally hundreds of the finest illustrators/artists world wide. Among the most famous are: Marie Laurencin, Max Ernst, Melvyn Peake, Salvador Dali, Peter Blake, Helen Oxenbury and scores of lesser known artists. In addition there are theatrical productions, musicals, operas, movies not to mention comic and manga artists. Every art movement of the past two centuries has been embraced: Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Surrealism, Pop Art, PhotoRealism, Minimalism and Fantasy.


The life of Lewis Carroll has been laid out in one biography after the next; his psyche has been examined, analyzed and dissected, his motivation questioned, studied, and, interpreted and the Alice books probed, poked and pored over from hell to breakfast.

Why, then, it might be asked, would an artist revisit subject matter so widely known and universally recognized? Why, for the fun of it of course! I first read the Alice books when I was eight. The images of Wonderland have not faded with the years; my interest never waned and I am no less captivated by the emblematic figure of Alice and her extraordinary encounters now than I was so long ago.


Aspects of Alice is a series of paintings not illustrating but inspired by and celebrating the stories. While my Alices vary racially and are at different life stages, they retain the resolute spirit of the original, neither meek nor obedient, but adventurous, inquisitive and strong. My rendition of her entourage includes recognizable images of Carroll’s famous characters as well as freshly invented characters for whom new stories must be imagined.


Lewis Carroll envisaged an alternative world with outsize characters and it’s own logic. He encouraged his readers to give free rein to their imaginations… follow Alice down that rabbit hole and through the looking glass. And so I did. He created a kaleidoscope of illusions; I simply rotated the cylinder.


Phyllis Davidson.
October 20, 2017