Politics in Wonderland: Sir John Tenniel at 200

‘Politics in Wonderland: Sir John Tenniel at 200’ is the theme of a new exhibition in the Templeman Gallery space.

The exhibition, curated by Jo Baines and Tom Kennett from Special Collections & Archives, will run until 20 March. Its launch marks the bicentenary of the birth of illustrator and political cartoonist Sir John Tenniel (1820–1914).

For almost 40 years, Tenniel was the chief political cartoonist for Punch magazine, a Victorian publishing institution, producing classics of the genre such as ‘Dropping the Pilot’. Today, however, Tenniel is chiefly remembered for the illustrations he provided for Lewis Carroll’s ever popular and strange tales Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871).

This exhibition celebrates Tenniel’s contribution to political cartooning in his own work for Punch and in the enduring influence his Alice illustrations have had on subsequent generations of political cartoonists. The exhibition features original cartoon artworks, cuttings and publications from the British Cartoon Archive by cartoonists including Nicholas Garland, Vicky, Strube and E H Shepard.

The exhibition accompanies a production of Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Dream Play, to be performed on Friday 21 February by the University Music department.

First performed in 1886, written by Henry Savile Clarke and with music by Walter Slaughter, the ‘dream play’ was overseen and authorised by Carroll himself, and was the only adaptation to be made with his approval. The production features some of Tenniel’s illustrations projected onto the stage, evoking the original atmosphere of the novel brought so vividly to life by Tenniel’s quirky, characterful images. Tickets are available on the Gulbenkian website.

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