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In order to create my sets, i’ve been drawing up designs of how i’d like to look when built, these have been drawn without references as i think it’s been more useful to rely on imagination and responding to the chosen pieces of text, hopefully providing new views on already popular pieces of text from “Alice in Wonderland”.I aim to create scenes, that do not need physical characters, because the characters are so well known i think it would be more interesting for the reader to imagine the characters interacting with the scene in their own way, and it leaves the illustrations looking more mysterious, much like wonderland is itself. It will be up to the reader to decide whether these illustrations show the places in wonderland before the characters have been there or after, and i think this mystery will add new depth to a story which has already had so many wonderful re-tellings and re-imaginations.

The three scenes i have chosen are :

scene1

This design is a response to the text below from chapter 1, Alice Down the Rabbit Hole:

“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book-shelves; here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it was labelled `ORANGE MARMALADE’, but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.”

I intend to create this scene using the half cabinet i used whilst creating the sets for my animation, as i can drill holes in this to suit my lighting. i will create the “hole” by using 4 plywood panels laser cut with book shelves and William Morris style patterns ( to show Victorian historical context as to when the story was written) i will stain these a darker colour, and then use soil to create a packed in scene with the panels set into it creating a “hole in the ground” some soil will poke through the panels and i will create paper cut roots to place in the soil and through the gaps in the hole. I will play with scale by using a mixture of real size and miniature objects in this scene, in the soil will be buried a real size book and Victorian style tasseled lampshade, with roots growing around it and a large silver spoon jutting into the hole, holding miniature books and the jar of orange marmalade that alice finds in the book. The shelf and cupboard shapes will be cut into the plywood and then miniature objects settled in the soil such as books and maps as mentioned in the text, along with portraits hung in frames which i will create and dot around the scene. i will also use a variety of miniature furniture in this scene combined with real size daffodils (an English flower). It is this combination of real size and miniature that i think will make it seem like Alice is entering wonderland. This scene will hopefully create the surreal atmosphere i am aiming for upon entering the story, also near the bottom of the hole it will be darker and at the top lighter, to simulate the lighting of going underground. The bottom of the hole will feature torn patterned wallpaper beginning to appear as alice enters the room below, contrasting the soil above. i will utilize small dollhouse lights to dimly light the hole, but overall i would like it quite dark. I will photograph this once it is created and edit for print 🙂

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Chosen Scene 2: Alice Meets the Caterpillar

This is responding to a shorter piece of text, because this chapter is dialogue heavy and doesn’t have much descriptive language i can be quite free with my interpretation

“This time Alice waited patiently until it chose to speak again. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away in the grass, merely remarking as it went, `One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.”

With this scene, i intend to use outside space to set it up and make use of moonlight hopefully, with some small artificial lights to help if needed. I think it would be interesting to shoot the scenes inside wonderland in the dark, at night, because nowhere in the story is there a time of day mentioned and i have not seen an interpretation of the stories illustrations yet that has been created in nighttime. I have sourced a kitsch vintage mushroom night light, that will form the basis of this scene, it has holes in the top which will cleverly fall in with my idea that instead of the caterpillar smoking the “hookah” sitting on the mushroom, the mushroom will be the “hookah” itself, a magic mushroom of sorts. i will create smoke inside the mushroom during photography, to create the illusion of the hookah working. I will be creating laser cut whimsical shapes and swirls to place amidst real and overly large plants to play with the scale and introduce some surreal attributes to the scene. I will also create a small gate in the forefront, embellished with queen of hearts type symbols, to enforce ideas through the story that wonderland belongs to the queen. This will also allow me to create depth in the image, the gate will lead to a path leading through the plants and shapes to the mushroom which will be smoking out of the holes. I will create the mouthpiece for the hookah and a wire to enter the mushroom, and also as an added touch i will create many pairs of needle felted caterpillar shoes to dot around the scene, giving the impression that the character may have been there before, or not arrived yet.  I will again use large daffodils in this scene, because i think this flower has character and will look striking when put next to smaller objects. I will also mix in various other flora in the scene, of varying sizes to again play with scale. Some may even be created from paper or fabric. I will light this scene, hopefully using the moonlight or very small LED lights just poking out of the ground, in order to light it from underneath the scene because i think this will create interesting shadows.

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Chosen Scene 3: A Mad tea party

Responding to the text below:

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; `only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There’s plenty of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

This scene is the most elaborate of the 3 i have designed, because this is the most iconic scene in the books history in my opinion and its representation needs to be wild and outlandish. I will once again set this outside by moonlight, therefore all of my illustrations will be dimly lit and hopefully have some really interesting shadows to them that will make the feel of the illustrations more mature, mysterious and perhaps show a more threatening side to “Wonderland” , rather than it being too cutesy. The text mentions a house, which i have chosen to omit because the table will be placed under a tree, but surrounded by many trees and whimsical shapes/ shadows and objects that hide the background, i think this will create more intrigue and depth, because the reader will have to imagine what lies beyond the trees as opposed to it being obvious. This will be the scene where scale is really unravelled and contrasted, there will be giant and miniature mushrooms, flowers and some life size biscuits and tea items such as cutlery and cups, combined with miniatures. I think this will be more interesting and surreal than my previous experiment with this scene and i like the idea of there being alot of depth in this image making you want to study it longer to see what is in the distance. I will laser cut the gate and obscure shapes, along with some paper cut shapes and i will use found objects to create much of the scene. The table will be very heavily laden like the book suggests, and some items will be on the floor/ scattered about to give a sense of chaos. Also it being empty of characters will allow audiences to choose what scenario has taken place here, have the characters had to leave in a hurry amid the chaos?

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