lost in wonderland, 2005


In Brighton there are many secret tunnels, built by the Victorians to preserve privacy and create connections between places seen and unseen. Lewis Carroll spent many years visiting 11 Sussex Square from 1862 – 1885 and the long elegant brick passageway connecting the gardens in the square to the sea have always been rumoured to be the inspiration for the rabbit hole in Alice’s Adventures under Ground – the early, darker prototype of the text which eventually became Alice in Wonderland.

The tunnel needs no Freudian interpretation to reveal its role as passageway between worlds. A female child, at an age old enough to make sense, but young enough to still wonder, enters a new reality via a long tunnel. Shamans, mystics and those who have eluded death to discover other realities, have long accessed these ‘wormholes’ between worlds. Long, dark, damp and seeming to leading nowhere, the tunnel promises a revelatory ending to those who are willing to endure fear and have faith to travel its depths. In Alice’s case, this was Wonderland, and this anarchic technicolour world has received many visual interpretations by artists.

Lost in Wonderland, however, is a study of the tunnel and the internal psychological shifts that take place in the creative process of occupying the space ‘between worlds’. Alice is of a certain age, between childhood and adolescence, when the magical mind is still open, yet the brain is able to reason. The imaginative power of children – their ability to believe in new worlds with seemingly little stimulus is surely the inspiration for Carroll’s magical story. Was it truly his invention? Or perhaps rather, the documentation of a game enacted by young children who have the keys to the everlasting Wonderland – a timeless world of Now found through the simple adventure of play.