6 amazing Alice in Wonderland-inspired art and design projects

New editions, an iPad app, stamps, a papercut wonderland, a musical with interactive installations, and how to create your own Cheshire cat.


This year is the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – prompting a wide range of creative projects and events based around Charles Dodgson’s novel.

These range from projects based around the core text – such as the republishing of the many different illustrated editions from the last century-and-a-half – to works inspired by the themes, environment and characters from the novel. Here we’ve collected five of our favourite Alice-related projects that we’ve covered in Digital Arts’ much shorter history.

Fans of Alice’s adventures should also visit the wonderful exhibition at the British Museum in London, which runs until January 27 2016. This brings together original manuscripts, illustrations and memorabilia from the book’s 150 history. On show are the earliest artworks by Dodgson himself and Sir John Tenniel (usually though of as the original illustrations), as well as more modern interpretations from the likes of Helen Oxenbury. The progression shows the adventures, characters and the world of Wonderland becoming more and more sanitised over the decades – so it’s great to see more menacing visual representations of the novel, especially my person favourites, by Arthur Rackham.

Anthony Browne’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Despite loving Packham’s renderings, I’m not saying all illustrated versions of Alice need to as dark as his (or as gothic as Tim Burton’s film version). Walker Books – publisher of kids books that both delight children and appeal to your sense of aesthetics, from Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back to Chris Haughton’s A Bit Lost – has used the anniversary to reprint this lovely edition featuring illustrations by Gorilla-creator Anthony Browne.

Very much emphasising the wonders of Wonderland, the book features Browne’s trademark pictures-within-pictures.


wonder.land

wonder.land is currently on at the National Theatre in London. The musical features melodies by Blur’s Damon Albarn, with lyrics and the book by Moira Buffini.

The production uses the concept and motifs of Wonderland to look at how people – especially young people – separate their offline and online lives, and what happens when they blur.

Alongside the musical is an interactive exhibition created by Play Nicely that uses technologies that combine digital and real-world elements, including Oculus Rift, Kinect, Google Cardboard and augmented reality.

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Alice in Wonderland stamps

Grahame Baker-Smith’s paintings of iconic scenes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland featured on the Royal Mail’s stamps that were released this year.

There’s some brilliant characterisation in Baker-Smith’s artworks – the Cheshire Cat looks genuinely unhinged and there’s a real sense of menace to the Red Queen.

The artworks are also available as framed prints and in a pop-up book created by Walker Books (them again).

See all of the Royal Mail's Alice in Wonderland stamps.


A Journey To Wonderland

Davy and Kristin McGuire are uniquely talented creatives – best known for creating magical experiences by projecting films and animations onto papercut pop-up books.

I’ve always, er, wondered if they’d create a version Alice in Wonderland – which would likely be truly amazing – but the nearest they’ve come is this Alice-inspired film for Elle Magazine’s 25th Anniversary. In it, Chinese actress Xhou Zun wanders through some of the McGuire’s creations until she encounters a very shiny lion. You can watch it above.

Zhou has been digital composited into the papercut world – rather than the projection-mapping used on the McGuire’s live work – so it lacks some of the real-world charm of a lot of their work, but it’s still worth a watch to imagine what could have been.


Create a Cheshire Cat in Photoshop

Want to create your own Alice in Wonderland-themed illustration? Check out Fabio Sasso’s tutorial on how to use the Photoshop Liquify filter to warp and manipulate photos for surreal effect.

Fabio’s used the techniques he demonstrates to bring the Cheshire Cat to life, but you could use them on people or places to create a fully fleshed-out Wonderland.

Read our Photoshop tutorial: Master the Liquify filter for surreal photo illustrations

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Alice for the iPad

Though rudimentary by 2015’s standards, Alice for the iPad was a groundbreaking digital storybook that pioneered adding interactivity to books and releasing them as apps in 2010.

The app featured redrawn illustrations based on scans of an old edition featuring Tenniel’s illustrations. Elements have been extracted, which you can move around using your fingers or by tilting your iPad.

Initially released for £4.99, you can now download it for free from the App Store – and it still works fine even on my iPad Pro.