Drink Me – A Magical Elixir to Cure All Ills

This work is in the group exhibition Ensemble 1 which will be held at STALA CONTEMPORARY opening on Saturday July 17th 4:30 – 6:30 12 Cleaver Street West Perth.

Work in Progress, Drink Me – Azure 275 x 185 mm

The idea of a magical elixir is a common trope in mythological stories, in many stories it can provide immortality or be an instrument of alchemy, often enabling some sort of transition.

I have been making work based on the symbolism in the story of Alice in Wonderland for the last few years. The Drink Me bottle shows up in the first chapter of the story, shortly after Alice arrives in Wonderland. She sees a tiny doorway and beyond the doorway is a beautiful garden but Alice is too large to enter. Her problem is solved (or so she thinks) in the form of a bottle marked “Drink Me” In Alice’s case it simply appears magically providing a way to create a physical transformation – changing size. When she drinks this magical liquid, she shrinks enabling her to enter the doorway. However she has left the key on the table and is now too small to retrieve it. Here Alice’s “road of trials” * begins, and her conundrum is something both Victorian readers (when the book was first published) and contemporary readers can relate to.

I have really enjoyed the process of using ink on paper, there is an interesting lack of control in the process. The bright, high key colour glows and for me evokes a kind of unreal magical quality. For many people, colour itself has psychological qualities; multiple studies have shown that the colour of a placebo pill can affect potential outcomes, I find this fascinating. I have created six images in different colours and have found different people resonate with different images.

The “Drink Me” bottle has for me become a symbol of possibility for change. Like the reader, Alice does not know what will happen when she drinks the liquid.  In Victorian times when the story was written, medicine bottles were corked with a paper label ties to the neck and this is the way I have painted these images using replica antique bottles as a reference.

If you are able to please join me for the exhibition opening; Saturday 17th July 4:30 – 6:30pm, 12 Cleaver Street West Perth. Here is a link the to gallery https://www.stalacontemporary.com.au/

* “road of trials” is a phrase used by Joesph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, although Campbell didn’t believe that a hero’s journey story could have a female protagonist??? I think he was mistaken!