Curiouser and Curiouser

By Lauren Tighe

It’s been a while since any of us have had an adventure. If you are looking for ways to quench that thirst, take a trip with us down the cultural rabbit hole, that is the all-encompassing three-dimensional experience, encapsulated by the V&A. Join us as we delve into the V&A’s surreal and immersive exhibition ‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’. Get some Alice-like wardrobe inspiration from Hannah Cowley’s captivatingly textured smocked clothing and accessories or see what the future looks like for the V&A as they expand to new locations.  

‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ by Kristjana S Williams Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Running until the 31st of December; ‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’ enlightens you to the sheer impact on pop culture that Lewis Carroll’s novel ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ contributed. The exhibition guides you through a multi-layered, immersive, and theatrical show that demonstrates the adaptations, origins, and reimagined versions of the story during its’ 157 years of existence.

‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’ Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Prepare to become entranced as you enter each room of psychedelic settings reminiscent of optical illusions. You can expect to see first edition original illustrations by John Tenniel, photography by Tim Walker, art from Salvador Dali, and fashion from Vivienne Westwood. All of this, and more demonstrate the sheer reach to which this beloved children’s novel has touched so much of our culture. If you wanted to pick up some memorabilia from your visit, the V&A are stocking limited edition, specifically commissioned, artwork and prints by Kristjana S. Williams.

Hannah Cawley. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

For clothing that screams ‘Alice’, it is most definitely worth checking out Hannah Cawley’s exclusive collection of hand-smocked garments and accessories, stocked on the V&A online shop. Cawley sourced her inspiration from the V&A archives and each piece is hand-cut and made in London, using responsibly sourced materials.

Hannah Cawley. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The collection consists of five items, with smocking as an overlying feature for ultimate princess-like attire. Cawley is reminiscent of a visit to the V&A to see a Grace Kelly exhibition with her mother when she was younger and states that the V&A has always been a source of inspiration for her. This collection takes inspiration from the V&A’s extensive historical archive of smocked pieces.

Hannah Cawley. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Fast forward to the future, and the V&A has been working towards the launch of an exciting new location; V&A East, consisting of two new sites, which are expected to open in 2024 and 2025. The two new sites are currently under construction in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The first sister location, opening in 2024, is the V&A East Storehouse. This location will offer a new immersive experience and allow visitors to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of the exhibitions.

Internal render view of V&A East Storehouse at Here East, designed by Diller Scofidio + RenfroRender shows how a marquetry ceiling from the now-destroyed Altamira Palace near Toledo, Spain, c.1490, will be installed as a real architectural element within the centre© Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018

The second location, V&A East Museum, will open in 2025, celebrating global creativity, just a short walk across the park from the V&A East Storehouse. The two locations are focused on the mission to make the arts accessible to all and will specifically focus on 21st-century creativity. The aim is to display works by artists and designers who strive to make the world a better place.

External render view of V&A East Museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey© O’Donnell + Tuomey / Ninety90, 2018

The exhibitions will champion creativity from dynamic and diverse backgrounds through the lens of the making process. These new locations will act as a platform for under-represented works, kick-starting conversation, and collaboration from makers all around the world. They have a particular interest in creating a three-dimensional dynamic that will encourage young creatives to flourish, because after all “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” (Lewis Carroll).

If reading ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ has left you grinning like the Cheshire cat, and ready to explore the many dimensions of the V&A, you might also enjoy reading 3D; Scribbles. To find out more about the exhibition Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser click Here. To shop Hannah Cawley’s collection click Here. If you are interested in what the future holds for the V&A East click Here.

Feature Image: Internal render view of V&A East Museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey © O’Donnell + Tuomey / Ninety90, 2018. Large Image to the left: ‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’ Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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