Catalogue Essay by Dr Ric Spencer

Understanding Alice

The Understanding Alice Series was created by Shana when she was invited to exhibit at the Fire-station Print Studio in Melbourne. The exhibition was in 2015 and was the first of the Alice in Wonderland inspired work. Subsequently in 2017 Monash University bought the entire set of linocuts for their collection along with three of Shana’s Artists’ Books. The Following is the catalogue essay for the exhibition written by Dr Ric Spencer.

In and through the Rabbit Hole – Dr Ric Spencer

The White Rabbit appears intermittently in Understanding Alice.  The White Rabbit is late, late for a very important date. But of course he isn’t. He is where he is needed, where he is supposed to be… a guide, a narrator, a provocateur. Set in a series of “notes-to- self”, an enunciation to self-determination, Understanding Alice prompts and pushes at Shana’s comprehension of her own journey, of her-self wrapped up in time and space, nestled and wrestled through experiences. As an escapade of symbology Understanding Alice pits the dreamlike nature of the world against the reality of life being a very real series of events and circumstances. The free-flowing consciousness of Shana’s imagery offers us just such a series of events – reading like a tarot and working like the rabbit as a guide – they unfurl along a path of understanding, acceptance and the realisation that life is a learning opportunity.

To be where you are is to be where you are supposed to be – to be the White Rabbit (I am the White Rabbit, I am the White Rabbit). Not the anxious, late for something, need to be elsewhere, too busy to talk White Rabbit – but the one who is where he needs to be for the story to continue along; for growth to unfold. Shana’s bold, fluid lines, open and inviting, pull us along like Charles Dodgson’s* musings on a slow flowing stream on a languid summer’s day. In Shana’s images Alice never engages us; we are cursory to her story. She is embedded in her own sense of becoming, beyond our judgement, oblivious to our questions. In her own way – or on her own way – she is reminding us that there is always room at the Mad Hatter’s table (a table where time has stopped and life is lived, eternally, in the moment) for those of us who have the courage to accept the challenge of being where we are supposed to be – which is where you are.

* Charles Dodgson, the Author of Alice in Wonderland published under the pen name Lewis Carroll

Dr Ric Spencer is an artist and writer and currently Curator at Fremantle Arts Centre.