Festive Blog: Text Vest; Dorothy Herel

Our guest blogger Normana Wight has chosen to investigate Dorothy Herel’s work titled Jabberwocky which is currently on display until February 2018 in the ALA Showcase on level 4 in the State Library of Queensland.

An artist’s book recalling Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky.’ ( Alice through the looking glass.)

“Jabberwocky”

In a Contemporary take on Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’, Dorothy Herel has used Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem to construct a textual garment – Text Vest .
The vest was made in collaboration with French papermaker Michel Guet. It is made from handmade paper, and has printed on it Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem, Jabberwocky, in English and French. It was printed by Thierry Bouchard, in France, 1991.

There was some Japanese paper clothing in the Japanese clothing exhibition held at GOMA a few years ago (2014), you may remember?

(Future beauty: 30 years of Japanese fashion) This wonderful work reflects both that show, and the inspired lunacy of Lewis Carroll.

Jabberwocky [poem by Lewis Carroll ; vest by Dorothy Herel]

We have already looked at this book in its original version: ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass,’ with brilliant 19th century illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. (Blog posted July 2017.)
This tradition of nonsensical wordplay is particularly British; not only Lewis Carroll, but also poets like Edward Lear, who also drew. (He wrote ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’)
The trend to literary lunacy really took off in the early 1950’s, with the radio, and abstract masterpieces of imagination; particularly ‘The Goon Show’. The ‘wireless’ was the ‘ medium-du-jour’, and the words and sound created a whole universe of the mind. For half an hour a week, radio audiences would hover round the ‘wireless’, howling with laughter. Particularly as post-war life in Britain was just as grim as wartime.
These days, books and poems and performances like this are seen as reflections of their own historic era, and are valuable historic material.

One of the current works in response to all this, is a jacket made of paper and utilising the ‘Jabberwocky’ text. ‘Text Vest’ is a beautiful object in a response that makes the work look surreal rather than rib-tickling. The artist is Dorothy Herel, whose background lies in designing clothes and theatre costumes. She attended a paper symposium in Japan, and on her return to Australia, began to make paper clothes. Japan has a tradition of long fibred paper (mulberry based) and paper clothes – (not for every day you know!)
Dorothy’s ‘book’ was made in France, which has a different tradition; using rags -e.g. linen, as a basis for tough paper.
** This is, after all, about nonsense, the irrational, the surreal, and so-on!

 

My edition of ‘Alice’: Jabberwocky, 1st 3 verses of 7.

This edition published 1947 by Pan Books Ltd, by arrangement with Macmillan & Co. Ltd.

The author of this blog was given the paperback book for Christmas, 1948.
It is VERY fragile!

Normana Wight December 2017