Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition 2013- Ellie Noir

Ellie Noir is a graduate from the Adelaide Central School of Art. Her works in the Helpmann herself as Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

image used by permission of the artist (courtesy of James Field)

image used by permission of the artist (courtesy of James Field)

“Myself as Alice”- Ellie Noir 

Ellie has been working on her Alice in Wonderland series for the last couple of years, having been fascinated with the story since she was a child. In each of the works in the series there is a black door, linking them.

In this work we see the artist herself in the place of Alice. Set at the beginning of the story where Alice has eaten some cake labelled “Eat Me” and has grown to enormous proportions. Ellie is has depicted herself in a blue silk dress with black and white stockings and black shoes. She is sitting on a circular check floor in a round blue grey room. One might imagine that there is a dome in the ceiling it is inferred through the architectural line work on the walls. A small doorway is behind her in the distance and serves as the only apparent exit from this cramped space. Alice (Noir) holds her hand up in front of her face as if to shield it, her head is turned into her shoulder and her eyes are closed tight. The light source comes from above.

This work contains many repetitive elements such as colour and pattern to help the viewer connect with the subject matter. While her dress reflects the colours of the walls; Alice’s stockings and shoes reflect the pattern and colour of the flooring.  The warmth shown in her skin is in contrast to the cool surroundings and her dress. Masterfully painted with oil on Belgian linen; Ellie Noir has sought to capture a great amount of detail in the tone of her subject matter. The folds of the dress and her treatment of the figure are skilfully rendered. The compositional qualities of this work are such that our eyes are gently led around the work.

As a character in the book, Alice is a sensible and logical girl from a wealthy family who is thrust into a nonsensical world filled with strange characters and happenings. Bored with the Victorian world of her sister, she follows a rabbit down a rabbit hole in the hopes that it might bring her some new realisation.  Yet wonderland seems to frustrate her further. This artwork depicts a scene in the first and second chapters. Lewis Carroll dramatizes the frustrations that young people feel as they grow older and gain independence.  Alice can see that a magnificent garden is on the other side of the doorway; however, she is either too big or too small to fit through it.  She drinks a potion on the table and shrinks too small to get the key, amplifying the frustrations associated with feeling insignificant in childhood and the feelings of missing out on out childhood as we grow old.  “Myself as Alice” is an exploration of identity and growth. This journey is never black and white and possibly the great realisation is that life is never sensible and logical but rather magical and surprising.

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