Recently I have been experimenting with screen printing and drawing as a way of applying colour to my work and I am very pleased with the outcome. My tutor recommended trying printing with my work in order to get a flat bold colour that would evoke the propaganda images from the Russian Revolution. I used a blood red colour for the printing process in order to symbolise a number of things, the communist propaganda of the revolution, the death toll from the war, the death of the Romanov family, the Queen of Hearts and her bloodthirsty tendencies and finally Alice’s maturity.
After printing the images, I then drew back into them with a black pencil which created a very nice contrast and emphasised the red even more. I originally wanted to apply more colour to the images possibly using ink an d watercolour but was so pleased with how they turned out that I decided not too and think I made the right decision as applying more colour may have ruined them. Despite this, I could always copy them onto nice paper and then work back into them so I will still at least have the original illustrations.
Within these images, I also wanted to included a lot of the symbolism and allegory I have discussed previously and managed to do some of that. For example, in the mad tea party I wanted the Hatter to become a representation of Rasputin, who had a lot of influence on the imperial family, while the March Hare is a representation of the nobility at the time who greatly disapproved of Rasputin. The Romanov family is then personified within the confused Alice and the dormouse, the latter is wearing the imperial crown and both the Hatter and the Hare are trying to keep him to themselves.
As for the image of Alice with the roses, the symbolism there involves Alice entering adulthood and sexual maturity; a theme which had a appeared during my research into Snow White for my dissertation, particularly with the idea of red, white and black being symbols of blood, innocence, purity and death. As well as this, the roses are meant to represent the façade of the enchanted garden Alice spends the novel trying to reach, as ultimately it is not what she expected and the beauty of it is false; the roses for example aren’t really red but have just been painted that way. They also symbolise the death involved in the revolution and the falseness of the Queen’s beheading threats as it seems no one is ever actually beheaded.
The image of Alice in the house is taken directly from a drawing I had done during my development work which I photocopied onto cartridge paper in black and white before screen printing on the top of it and then drawing back into it. The house is stylised after the Ipatiev house where the Romanov family was murder and so the image itself becomes an allegory for the imprisonment of the family, just as Alice becomes a prisoner of sorts due to her growing, and the redness of the house a representation of the death that took place there.
One of the initial difficulties of this project was not knowing how dark to make it and how much of the terrible history to include within it. However as I have continued to work on the project, I have begun to move away from the Alice text and focus more upon the symbolism and meaning behind it rather than illustrating it literally. I really like working in this way for the project and will continue to do so, and my fears of the project possibly being to dark, as it did originally start out as a brief for a children’s book, are now pretty non existent. I think that the symbolism involved within these images aren’t overly obvious at the moment and so the dark nature may not be obvious to everyone, something which is common in children’s stories, particularly fairy tales as I have learned from my dissertation.