Two Exhibitions that have just opened in the UK have led me to write about Carlton Ware's ALICE range.
Here in London, the Victoria & Albert Museum opened ALICE:Curiouser & Curiouser.
In Stoke-on-Trent, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery rolled out its Curiouser & Curiouser! Alice's Adventures in a Museum Wonderland created by Helen Cann and Andrew Brandscombe.
Forty years ago, Carlton Ware introduced its ALICE Series with its take on the same theme. The range was devised by in-house designer Pam Souch, who joined the pottery in 1975. The modeling is attributed to John Tyler.
Pam was inspired by the characters in Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Written in 1865 and 1871 respectively, the novels have remained influential in popular culture.
John Tenniel's illustrations for both books have proved to be a source for many interpretations of the characters ever since the publication of the novels.
We can see Tenniel's influence on the form of Pam's bookends from the Series, which represent Alice entering and exiting the looking glass as illustrated in Chapter One of Caroll's sequel.
Above: ALICE SERIES bookends S3347 by Pam Souch.
Above: John Tenniel's illustrations of Alice in the Looking-glass House
from Through the Looking-Glass.
In 1982, three items from the ALICE Series were featured in a sales leaflet. The relevant part of this promotional leaflet is shown on the right to which I have added shape numbers.
In total there were nine items in the Series or Range and I show the others below.
CHESHIRE CAT covered butter
The Queen of Hearts was also represented in the Series and, as with the Cheshire Cat, Pam was kinder to the character than Tenniel, as you can see below.
QUEEN OF HEARTS preserve
The MAD HATTER and DORMOUSE eggcups
Pam's Mad Hatter is clothed in a bright yellow jacket and holds a cup in both hands. He appears to be a play on the traditional Toby jug. The dormouse is realistically embossed onto a goblet shape.
The CATERPILLR covered sugar
Pam's Caterpillar sits atop a mushroom shaped container to form a covered sugar.
The PLAYING CARD GARDENERS
Pam departs from Tenniel's representations of the characters with her PLAYING CARDS salt & pepper S3403 by having the characters faces project from the centre of the card in a similar way to the earlier POTTS FAMILY range for children and also in a similar way to Alice's face projecting from one of the bookends.
The portrayal of the head of Playing Card character on the toast rack is also different from Tenniel's. My guess is that it is a likeness of someone on the works, perhaps the modeler John Tyler or an affectionate representation of his predecessor Ken Coxon, who had recently died. Or was it meant to be Arthur Jackson, the sales manager. Having interviewed the highly entertaining Arthur during our many visits to The Potteries, I do see a likeness. Pam would know.
If you come across this page Pam it would be lovely to hear from you and correct any errors that I may have made in this article.
Below, is an Infographic that I have made which shows all seven items inspired by Alice in Wonderland, giving their names and shape numbers.
Above: Infographic showing most of the ALICE Series by Pam Souch.
The V&A's ALICE:Curiouser and Curiouser 'aims to transport visitors into the otherworldly experiences shaped by theatrical sets, immersive environments and playful displays, including the museum's first virtual reality experience.'
It runs until 31 December 2021. Click on the image below for details.
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery's Curiouser & Curiouser! Alice's Adventures in a Museum Wonderland brings the adventures to life through objects from across the museums collections.
It runs until 30 November 2021. Click on the banner below for details.
True to Lewis Caroll's novels, hopefully, this article has taken you on a journey!© Harvey Pettit 2021