Maggie Taylor’s Wonderland is bold and utterly original, a fusion of realism and illusion with an impact that challenges visually and intellectually. I oscillate between unease when multi-faced Alice impassively stares right back at me and delight when a natural setting of breathtaking beauty is revealed on the next page. Maggie Taylor’s art has a 2+2=5 kind of impact. Once the last page was turned its cumulative effect on me was awe-inspiring. Dare I say that this book is not for the aesthetically faint-hearted.
Thomas Southall, the author of “The Many Faces of Taylor’s Alice” afterword, notes that “perhaps more than any conventional illustrator or even Dali’s energetic surrealism, Taylor has created a visual counterpoint to Carroll’s writing style, not just illustrations of his story. “Through the Looking Glass” series is a provocative set of images filled with multiple meanings and unanswered questions much like Carroll’s original tales. This is a posthumous collaboration we might expect the author would have truly enjoyed.”
Many of Maggie Taylor’s images are composed of numerous scans of photographic images which are then imported into 100s of layers in Photoshop where she performs her magic and trickery to create her composite artistry. The process is painstakingly detailed and the final results are said to defy the traditional categories of photography, painting, drawing and printmaking. I agree. You don’t have to be an expert practitioner in any of these art forms to see that Maggie Taylor indeed crosses boundaries and transcends traditional illustration.
Some of the many ‘perks’ of this book include the above-mentioned afterword article by Thomas Southall with an insightful discussion of Maggie Taylor’s process, showing a few examples of the visual material she is using to create her composite images (see the last few photos in this post). Also, the final page is a stunning chessboard of all 64 illustration plates from the entire book in a one-stop-shop view. Many of these illustrations I think can stand alone as separate artworks even when taken out of the Alice story’s context.
All in all, this is a sumptuous edition of an oversized format and outstanding quality of printing – a publishing masterpiece produced by Moth House Press, 2018.
To browse other editions of illustrated “Alice in Wonderland” click here.
To browse other editions of illustrated “Through the Looking-Glass” click here.
What are you favourite versions of illustrated ‘Alice’?