I’ve recently discovered a rather cool thing circulating through the blogging world called the April A-Z Challenge. I may be starting a bit late, but I thought I’d hop on the band-wagon..
So A is for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland! I studied it last year in my ‘Once Upon a Time’ children’s literature module, and I also finished a project on its dream elements during my Art A-Level. I have a bit of an obsession with it really, and its references to tea certainly don’t help..
One of my favourite and most immature things about the book is one illustration that my lecturer pointed out to us. It’s awfully silly, and I hope no-one disapproves of me for displaying it. But here is an illustration from a chapter called ‘Pig and Pepper’, and what can we see in the cook’s hand? A pepper pot? Or a penis…? Mwahaha.
When I went to New York, we were given a student-friendly map of the city, with interesting and quirky landmarks that might not be in the usual tourist guides. To my delight, there was a tiny image of an Alice-themed statue located somewhere in Central Park. This being my first visit to the city, I was jolly excited at finding such a treasure so close to our hostel! I made the fatal error of assuming Central Park was probably fairly similar to Hyde Park, easily navigated and quite simply, a ‘walk in the park’. So off I trotted to this oasis of greenery dragging three friends behind me, ready to locate the treasure, have a quick look, and spend the rest of the morning exploring the city.
An hour later, we had traipsed through this ‘playground’ feeling like marooned sailors on a tropical island. There was just so much grass, we couldn’t get our bearings. On the verge of giving up and despairing for our sanity, our Holy Grail suddenly loomed from behind a tree, and relief spread through us. We were going to live.
Having finally made it back into the world of concrete, we were strolling down East 64th Street, when we suddenly caught sight of a delicious looking tearoom called Alice’s Tea Cup. Inside, the walls were hung with vintage tea cups and Carroll-esque memorabilia, and the wooden shelves behind the counter were stacked with row upon row of glass jars, stuffed with a cacophony of different tea-leaves. It was just divine.
Now by the end of this trip, I was heavily low on money, and I feel it may have been half-due to the M&M Factory in Times Square, and half-due to this tearoom. I indulged in a packet of ‘Alice’s Special Tea’, a cocktail of various leaves including rose-petals and jasmine.
I may have mis-spent my money in such a way that I had nothing to eat for the last day, but I certainly don’t regret it when I drink this tea.
Far from the exciting shores of America, there is another Alice spectacle in the humble town of Guildford, very close to me. It is often forgotten that there is a castle in Guildford, surrounded by various gardens, flowers and trees, and even a bowling green. In one of these gardens there is another treasure! Behind the wrought-iron gates, twisted into the shapes of each heart, spade, diamond and club card suit, there is a garden that lies behind Lewis Carroll’s own house that he bought for his sisters, called ‘The Chestnuts’.
In this garden is another statue, based around the sequel Through the Looking Glass.
As for my A-Level piece, I decided to focus on the surrealism of the novel, especially (and not surprisingly) around the teapot and rabbit motifs. However, my lovely Art teacher dropped it after the exhibition, so nearly all the teacups smashed. Unfortunately, only the ugly ones survived.