20 March - 13 April 2007
'Alice in Sunderland' is a 320 page graphic novel which links the history of Sunderland with the history of Lewis Carroll's stories, and with the stories of his and Alice Liddell's lives. The four short sequences here begin to outline Talbot's exceptional graphic skills as a comic-book artist, and his diverse interests in the history of graphic art, pictorial storytelling, and the role that Alice has played in the wider culture. The exhibition here celebrates the publication of the book following Talbot's three years of work on it.
The artist describes the book as a "dream documentary" in which dozens of stories are intertwined. They are connected by the fact that both Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell had connections with the city and surrounding area. For example Jabberwocky, arguably the most famous nonsense poem in the English language, was written in the city. The stories are told by a performer on the stage of the Sunderland Empire theatre in its centenary. As Talbot notes, "as the Empire is an Edwardian music hall, the work is a 'variety' performance in that different visual styles are utilised for each story." Accordingly, some stories are black and white, others technicolour and photographic in origin, yet others painted in watercolour.
The first selection of images forms the introduction to the book: we encounter Tablot's alter ego entering the Empire Theatre to discover a performer on stage. The second selection, opposite reveals how the Lewis Carroll and the writing of 'Alice' is intertwined with the history of the city. In the middle wall, Talbot analyses how another famous graphic artist constructed his stories - William Hogarth. And on the far wall, Talbot re-tells the myth of the Lambton Worm.