Alice at the National Art Library

I had the incredible privilege of viewing Sir John Tenniel’s original Alice in Wonderland etchings at the National Art Library. These tiny pictures, with pin-fine detail, are annotated by Tenniel in pencil. The illustrations are iconic and it was breathtaking to hold an image that has been reproduced in countless books all around the world.

Alice and Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll) are classic Victorian children’s literature. The surreality of the stories also captures the imagination of creatives and has inspired musicians, artists and filmmakers to reinterpret Alice through their own lens.

This was my first trip back to London since pre-pandemic Feb 2020. I was very happy to leave my calling card!

001 National Art Library visit Natalie Knowles

The theme of time and distortion of scale and perspective are synonymous with Carroll’s Alice stories, but also resonate with the strange days we experienced in the pandemic. Personally, I found that all sense of organised time disappeared and distinguished only by light and dark – day and night. I guess you could also say that a lot was running through our heads’ too – a metaphorical Jabberwocky embodies the fear of Coronavirus and its out-of-control spread. Finally, those eighteen months were a chance to stop and reflect. I took a lot of long walks in the countryside and indulged in nostalgia – for books, films and games from my past – which was a huge comfort during a rather solitary existance.

Eat Me, Drink Me by Natalie Knowles

I’m about to exhibit a large painting called “Eat Me, Drink Me” as part of the Unconsumed exhibition in Norwich. UnConsumed is a cross-generational, multi-disciplinary, post-pandemic exhibition by East Anglian artists. The show runs from 4th March until 11th March, open 12-6pm daily. The private view is 4th March 6-9pm.

UnConsumed exhibition at The Shoe Factory in Norwich.

Mediations is another lockdown art project of mine that reflects the focus on the passing of time and the shuttering up of life. I was very pleased to exhibit these meditative drawings with LAC Contemporary Arts (a.k.a The Lonely Arts Club) in 2021, both online and as part of In-Decision at the Undercroft Gallery.

Alice is a subject I’ve dabbled with many times, including on my annual Christmas card. Also, this beautiful collection of collaged drawings with the mixed-up body parts of Wonderland characters. This series includes, Alice, The Red Queen and The White Queen. I particularly love the line-work, achieving depth by crosshatching in layers with biro.

I guess, you can tell I’m an Alice fan because I’ve used the image of Mad Alice as my logo for well over 15 years. I can vividly remember the summer afternoons in 2008 when I sat at a desk by a sunny window and drew each of these (not-preplanned) one per afternoon, using my mum’s very well thumbed copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She had drawn in the pages of the book as a child. It’s falling to pieces and yellow, but I still have that book – it’s infinitely precious on a number of levels.

Alice in Wonderland Christmas card by Natalie Knowles