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Liverpool

I went to Liverpool for about 24 hours. Since austengirl is leaving the country, certainly for several months of world travel, possibly even more long term than that, I wanted to pay her a visit before she headed off on her expeditions. It was a good visit, but since they were busy repainting the house, cleaning, and organizing, I spent some of my time in museums.

And more museums than usual, given the time constraints! My train arrived around 4:15 pm, so I headed straight off to the World Museum, not having previously seen it. But since that closed at 5, I had time for ten minutes with the gorgeous, beautifully-displayed, but very small Anglo-Saxon collection, plus a superficial tour of Egyptians and one fish tank from the aquarium. I particularly liked that the spindle whorls were displayed on clear resin spindles. The woman at the information desk was a wonderful city ambassador: grieved I would not be around for Chinese New Year's celebrations this weekend, and everything else there is to do in the city. (Happily, this was not my first touristic expedition to Liverpool, so I've eaten at some of its good restaurants and seen a number of its museums before.)

She also recommended the Bluecoat, a building of craft shops and exhibit space which is open until 6 pm. I had time to see much - but not all - of the Gina Czarnecki show, which was fascinating. She's a new media artist who deals with the biological sciences, and the most striking pieces were those which actively required - or which required checking to see if they required - ethical consent. Donated milk teeth embedded in a crystal resin "palace" of fanciful swoops and towers. (Donations ongoingly sought.) The casts of donated femur ends, cleaned and stabilized by flesh-eating beetles. The dental casts of corpses, IDs filed off, no longer used for corpse identification, and no longer suitable for landfill.

This morning, I saw the Alice in Wonderland show at the Tate. The concept was lovely: the original artwork, plus a long history of all it and the story has inspired. The actual realization was a little too broad and rambled a fair bit. It was thought-provoking in some probably unintended ways. Notably, the book went out of copyright in 1907, fifty years after publication, and immediately something like 14 other illustrated editions were printed. The show as a whole celebrated the fruitfulness of its inspiration; an inspiration only made possible in so many cases because it did not linger overlong in copyright.

Display cases included many other illustrated Alices, including Arthur Rackham, Tove Janssen, Mervyn Peake, and Barry Moser. There were pre-Raphaelite paintings, Dodgson's social and artistic milieu; his own photographs; lots of Surrealist artwork by "the children of Alice"; early short films based on Alice, including two early Disney ones and one by René Magritte; lots of psychedelic '60s work; modern pieces which in some more and some much, much less, obvious ways reflected on some aspect of the Alice tradition.

Today was also rainy and - worse - very blustery down at the docks. I was really rather wet and glad I'd used my water-resistant hiking backpack as luggage on this particular trip.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
moon_custafer
Jan. 21st, 2012 12:27 am (UTC)
I particularly liked that the spindle whorls were displayed on clear resin spindles.

Good - they'd be hard to comprehend otherwise.

Didn't Peter Blake do a set of Alice illustrations at some point?
owlfish
Jan. 21st, 2012 09:34 am (UTC)
Most museums display spindle whorls without that context. It really was worth commenting on because it was so nicely and informatively done in this case.

Yes, for a collaborated pair of Alice editions which were never published (according to the gallery sign) and so were instead released as an edition of just the prints.
vschanoes
Jan. 21st, 2012 04:25 am (UTC)
An Alice show at the Tate? It's not that I am jealous except I AM SO JEALOUS. Hmm. How long is it running? Maybe I can get research funds...
owlfish
Jan. 21st, 2012 09:32 am (UTC)
Only until the end of January, I'm afraid. There's a catalog, but it looked less satisfying than many catalogs, especially given the number of pieces in the show in non-traditional media forms.
klwilliams
Jan. 21st, 2012 05:07 am (UTC)
Have you seen Bryan Talbot's "Alice in Sunderland"? It's another kind of version of Alice.
owlfish
Jan. 21st, 2012 09:34 am (UTC)
Yes! I have it and have read it. It wasn't formally on display in the exhibition, but there was a copy among the dozen-or-so books on the additional reading table in the exhibit.
andromakie
Jan. 21st, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
Now there is an exhibit that I wish would come here, or at least to NYC where I could get to it!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )