Alice in Wonderland art exhibition in Halifax

THEY are some of the most famous illustrations in the world and they are no longer in Wonderland. They are right here in Calderdale.

Mention Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass and one name will instantly spring to mind; that of author Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll.

But it was the artistic talents of a second man, illustrator John Tenniel, that helped to earn the tales a place in history.

Now a selection of Tenniel's best illustrations form an enchanting exhibition at the Piece Hall Art Gallery and Visitor Centre, Halifax.

The original drawings for the books, written in the 1800s, were made on wooden blocks then engraved.

The prints of Tenniel's work are perfect examples of the combined skills of both the illustrator and engraver.

"The detail of the illustrations is incredible, with all of the characters so carefully designed. The story goes that both Carroll and Tenniel were great perfectionists so they made quite a formid- able team," says Karen Belshaw, area manager for Calderdale libraries, museums and arts.

She says the illustrations, which include some of Caroll's best-loved characters including the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, The Mock Turtle, Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee – and, of course, Alice – will bring back childhood memories.

"I think it's an exhibition which will appeal to all ages. Not only will parents enjoy them as they remember the books from their childhood but the drawings will also bring the magic alive for a whole new generation of children," she says.

Senior education officer Jeffrey Andrews is hoping that Calderdale schools will sign up to a series of workshops which are aimed at primary schools.

To tie in with the exhibition, staff have also been delving into the Calderdale museums' collections for items with an Alice theme which will now go on display.

To mark the opening of the exhibition, a Mad Hatter's tea party was held and a second one is planned when the exhibition closes in March.

Looking In Wonderland runs at the Piece Hall until March 9. Schools interested in taking part in the workshops, which are held Monday to Friday, from 10am to noon should ring Jeffrey Andrews on 01422 284459. To book a place for the Mad Hatter's tea party on Saturday, March 8 (2pm to 4pm), ring 01422 368725.

Click here to read: How a tall tale became an English classic...