Illustration by JVL in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There,
Artists' Choice editions, 2011
The illustration depicts a diagram of Alice Liddell's days of receiving 'unbirthday' presents. You'll see one blank (white) square when she doesn't receive an 'unbirthday' present because that is when it was her actual birthday. Humpty Dumpty was very proud to have received a cravat as an 'unbirthday' present from the White King and Queen, suggesting to Alice that you can receive 364 'unbirthday' presents rather than only one single birthday present.
'It's all rather ridiculous: is the rest of the day worth it?' A notebook drawing by JVL, 2004.
The drawing on the right-hand page was a response to being taken aback when listening to Magdalena Kozena singing the aria 'J'ai verse le poison' from Massenet's opera Cléopatre on the a radio one morning . It was so marvellous that there was little point in doing anything else practical during the day but produce this drawing.
Illustrations by JVL for the fable of 'The Flies and the Honey Jar',
Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape 1989.
It is a fable about a honey jar falling from a shelf and spilling honey, with the result that a number of flies are quick to feed themselves on it. While they were gorging the sweet substance their feet soon became clogged and they became immobilised and died. One of the flies, in its dying breath, called out "What fools we are, just for the sake of a rapturous minute, we have destroyed ourselves."
'The Lion and the Mouse', an illustration by JVL from Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989.
This is a fable about a lion who caught a mouse with the intention of eating him. The mouse begged for his life, claiming that he was far too small for a lion to eat and that he simply would not be a decent meal for such a mighty beast. The lion thus freed the mouse. Some while later the lion was caught in a net by trappers. The mouse saw this and immediately started to gnaw at the ropes of the net, eventually freeing the lion from his bonds. It is fable that shows that the weak and humble are capable of helping the strong and powerful if those who are strong are compassionate and supportive to the weak.
'The Cat and the Cock', an illustration by JVL for Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989.
This illustration depicts our own pet cat at the time - 'Ginny', near the hen coop in our garden.
It is a fable about a cat looking for excuses to kill the cock. The cat blamed the cat for making such a crowing noise at night when people were in bed. The cock's excuse was that he helped them get up in the morning so that they could go to work. The cat then accused the cock for having incestuous relationships with his mother, sisters and offspring. The cock replied that this meant that the hens laid more eggs thus benefitting their owner. The cat, fed up with these excuses, and who was intent on eating the cock in the first place gobbled him up.
'Forty-two', a notebook drawing by JVL, which was also included as a tailpiece in
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Artists' Choice Editions,
number 42 has a resonance in Lewis Carroll’s works. In Carroll’s poem The Hunting of the Snark forty-two is
the number of the Baker’s items of luggage and in the Preface to the first
edition of this poem Carroll mentioned Rule 42 of the ‘Bellman’s Code’, a rule
that states that “No one shall speak to
the Man at the Helm’. The same number crops up as another ‘rule’ in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when
the King of Hearts announces in court –
“Rule Forty-two. ALL PERSONS MORE THAN A MILE HIGH TO LEAVE THE COURT”. Tenniel
drew 42 illustrations for the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
There seems to be a magnetic attraction
to the number. The number forty-two also became well
known in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy. It was a number that was put forward as representing
“the meaning of life, the universe, and everything”, calculated by the computer
called ‘Deep Thought’.
In June 2008 the House of Commons in the UK voted
on extending a pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days, though this
was later defeated in the House of Lords. It has also turned up recently as the
number of days in which parents in the UK must register the birth of their
child. This illustration was drawn in a notebook and we decided to include it in
the book as an afterthought. There are of course 42 instances of the number 42
in the picture.
Oh yes - the number '42' also appears in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, as - ‘fortytwo hairs off his uncrown’ (FW 1:169/13) and - ‘as a taste for
storik’s fortytooth’ (FW 1: 177/26).
'It was the best butter you know'- a notebook drawing by JVL, 2008.
'It was the best butter you know' - an illustration by JVL, for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Artists' Choice Editions, 2009.
The remark - 'It was the best butter you know' - was made by the March Hare during the Mad Tea Party in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. He had used the butter in an attempt to lubricate the Hatter's watch. The watch told the day of the month.
An illustration of 'a drawing of a muchness' by JVL for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Artists' Choice Edition, 2009.
For this illustration I attempted to draw just a few items of ‘everything that begins with an M’,
such as ‘mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory and muchness’. The notion of
such a drawing was muttered by the Dormouse when he told Alice the story of the
three little sisters in the treacle well who were learning how to draw. In this
picture the March Hare presides over the illustration.
is exemplified by a knot, as well as a depiction of a ‘hippocampus’, the name of the seat of memory in the brain, which
has the shape of a seahorse (the word hippocampus
is also the Greek word for seahorse). Conveying a notion of ‘muchness’ visually
has been attempted by incorporating addition, multiplication, and infinity signs.
On the top right hand side of the moon there is a hand in the act of drawing
and a pencil above it – a reminder that this is an illustration of a drawing!
And at the bottom we have a strip showing the phases of the moon - ‘M’ for moon, moon reflecting time’s
passage, and moon connected with madness and lunacy.
Here is the actual passage of text during the 'Mad Tea Party' in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
`They were learning to draw,' the Dormouse went on, yawning and
rubbing its eyes, for it was getting very sleepy; `and they drew
all manner of things--everything that begins with an M--'
`Why with an M?' said Alice.
`Why not?' said the March Hare.
Alice was silent.
The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was going
off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up
again with a little shriek, and went on: `--that begins with an
M, such as mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness--
you know you say things are "much of a muchness"--did you ever
see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?'
`Really, now you ask me,' said Alice, very much confused, `I
'Inside a Head', a mixed media image by JVL carried out in 1965 for the fun of it.
I have just delivered this to Paul Burgess who, with Roderick Mills, is organising an exhibition of a Brighton students and staff who have been involved in the Art College/Polytechnic/University over the past 50 years. This will be included among other pictures of mine, which I will post on the blog later. The exhibition starts on the 18th of January at Grand Parade, Brighton.
''Twas brillig', an illustration by JVL for Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, Artists' Choice edition, 2011.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy
Did gyre and gimble in the
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Here is a translation of the verse, which I worked out before illustrating the passage. It is based on helpful information provided by Humpty Dumpty in the story itself and by Lewis Carroll elsewhere.
It was time for broiling dinner at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the smooth and slimy, lizard-like badgers (with corkscrew noses
and tails) scratched like dogs and screwed out holes into a rain-soaked hillside
beneath a sundial. The wingless, thin and shabby, mop-like parrots (with their turned-up beaks, with feathers sticking out all round and
who had made their nests under a sundial) were most miserable and flimsy. And the green pigs, that had lost their way, made a kind of a sneezing
noise in between their bellowing and whistling.