Alice, Jefferson Airplane and “White Rabbit”

After getting into the routine of writing very long posts which need a fair bit of research, I really enjoyed putting together a much shorter one last week where the featured song was married up with a set of pictures. This week I’m going to try and do the same, albeit using a very different subject matter:

The tickets are now booked and towards the end of next month we’re off to the Big Smoke, or That London as I’ve heard it called recently, to attend an awards ceremony for those who work in Mr WIAA’s industry. We went for the first time last year and it all worked out so well we have replicated our travel plans exactly. He has apparently won an award, but they very cunningly don’t tell you what it is until the actual ceremony, to leave an element of surprise they say, but img_0319more likely to ensure that as many of us attend as possible. As it turns out you pretty much know what you have or haven’t won the minute you arrive, as last time those of us seated in the “body of the kirk” were the runners up, whereas those who got aisle seats had won the top prizes, the gold awards, and had to go up on stage to receive them. There is no monetary value to the award, just the prestige of being the best in the country at what you do (or perhaps the best of those who have entered but much the same thing), but all very swish and a chance for us country bumpkins from the North of Scotland to experience such a thing. Last time I was happy just to have the chance to put on my posh frock and admire the amazing venue where the ceremony took place. Once the schmoozing started there was even wine and nibbles and being one who very rarely drinks nowadays due to designated driving duties, I got quite tipsy, quite quickly (oops), and therefore made lots of new friends! Wonder if they’ll remember me this year?

The subject matter for his entry this time was the marrying up of sculpture with literature and after a few false starts due to copyright issues it was discovered that Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland was fair game for inspiration. Now I think this book was one of the very first hardback novels I ever owned, and I still have it as it was a present from my grandmother. Back then I read it as a children’s story but of course being from the fantasy genre it has had a lasting popularity with adults as well. I give you, Mr WIAA’s 2017 entry:

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And if you go chasing rabbits

 

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And the Red Queen’s off with her head

Today’s featured song could therefore be none other than White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane, that ’60s band from San Francisco who pioneered psychedelic rock. They headlined at all three of the very memorable (but perhaps not for those who were there) rock festivals of that era, Monterey, Woodstock and Altamont and when I think of 1967’s Summer of Love, I think of them.

White Rabbit:

The very beautiful Grace Slick wrote White Rabbit and brought it with her when she joined the band. It uses the imagery from 1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass and her references include Alice, the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the White Knight, the Red Queen and the Dormouse. For Grace Slick, “The White Rabbit” was your curiosity and of course at that time drugs were very much a part of mind-expanding and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, in 1967 (that year again) White Rabbit became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio.

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As for Mr WIAA’s interpretation of the works of Lewis Carroll, it is a lot more literal, physical and 3-dimensional so I’m pretty sure he’ll sneak his way past the Craft Council’s board of censors. At his age his drugs of choice tend to be for indigestion or hayfever and sadly there haven’t been too many Summers of Love for him lately, so I think he’ll be ok – Hopefully he’ll do well with it in this year’s competition, the Oscars of the Craft Industry.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Sadly most of the craftspeople who will enter the competition are now of a certain age, and no-one is coming up behind, so these skills are being lost in our country forever. There has been a lot of talk about globalisation recently and we have seen it first hand in our industry as one by one the centuries-old casting companies of Sheffield and Birmingham shut up shop for good, unable to compete with the new technology and prices offered by the Far East. This will be Mr WIAA’s last vanity project as they are expensive to make and he has now been replaced by 3D photocopiers. It is sad, but a fact of modern day life in the Western world. I do wonder about what would happen if one day the machines rebel and refuse to work for us any more – Would anyone even be able to write in longhand any more, one of the most basic of life skills?

But hey, I don’t want to end this very pictorial post on a downbeat note so here is a montage of some of the other beautiful things that were presented at last year’s awards. As for us, we’ll be down at the end of the garden with our hookahs, looking for a rabbit hole, the voice of Grace Slick ringing in our ears!

White Rabbit Lyrics
(Song by Grace Slick)


One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all

Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call

And call Alice, when she was just small

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low

Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

10 thoughts on “Alice, Jefferson Airplane and “White Rabbit””

  1. What a wonderful piece of art, a deserved winner, though I’m sorry to hear such skills are fading out to be replaced by computers: further fuel for my desire to retreat to the past.

    Great choice of tune too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, on his behalf. Between you and me we know he won’t win the big prize as the same guy has won it for the last 10 years but nice to have a couple of days in London anyway. I’m torn though because I love some of the technology just wish it didn’t replace absolutely everything – why we’re in such a pickle at the moment. People are scared and react accordingly but just leads to more problems apropos what’s happening across the pond right now.

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  2. So lovely to see this Alyson, thanks for showing us – the Alice In Wonderland piece is (appropriately!) wonderful! Mr WIAA is clearly very talented and deserving of an award. How big is it, by the way? Being curious (and curiouser) I’d love to know more about the processes involved, the tools, how does it all start and how does it all end, how long does it all take to create, etc. (ok maybe not something that fits on here but if Mr WIAA ever wants to write a work-related blog I’ll be there!)
    It really is sad about the whole crafting industry over here and many of the traditional methods being lost, but it’s good to know that there are at least enough people involved in it the moment to warrant an awards ceremony – have a fantastic time in the big city and don’t go falling down any rabbit-holes ;-).
    Perfect choice of song too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi C – Thought you’d be interested so glad you like it. It wasn’t until I went through the lyrics for the song that I realised that every single line relates to something in the sculpture so a perfect match. It’s only about 6 inches tall so the figures really are very small – First a master model, then a mould, then cast in the appropriate material and finally painted (credit for the painting goes to the guys who specialise in this kind of stuff – gamers). The block of wood has quotes from the book. His sculpture last year didn’t even get placed although he won a bronze in another category so we’ll see how this fella does!

      I too am really sad about the loss of all these traditional skills – we have 2 of the best seal engravers in the country near us but both are around 80 so once they go, no more high end seal engravers. There is the argument that we don’t need them any more because wax seals and signet rings no longer exist but once the craft is gone, it will be gone for good.

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  3. Great work Mr. WIAA! If this is truly to be his last project of this kind, then you must make sure to really push the boat out while you’re in London – go on, one more glass of wine! It’s sad to hear of old skills disappearing forever and I’m quite sure that handwriting will be one of them somewhere down the line – I’ve noticed my own scrawl deteriorating over the years in tandem with increased reliance on computers.
    Excellent tune of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll pass it on but thanks! I think he’s just not going to do any more of this kind of competition work (for ego reasons) but if paid work comes in he will definitely take it on. The bread and butter stuff is a bit more mundane but I’ll add another few of the more interesting pieces in other posts (think I’ve found my blogging mojo again now that my computer is back in working order) – To be honest although I knew the song White Rabbit before this post I hadn’t actually really dissected the lyrics before and of course every line is Alice-related. Yes if it is our last trip I may as well take full benefit of the hospitality – Hopefully they’ll not remember me from last time!

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  4. Hi Alyson,
    I love your husband’s entry! Has he done any other pieces related to “children’s” literature? I’d love to see his interpretations of characters from”The Hobbit.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marie – Good to hear from you. I’m afraid the other two pieces that are going to eventually be displayed in our town library relate to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so no, not really children’s! No hobbits in progress at the moment although in the 27 years we’ve been together I’ve seen most things transformed into 3D! Small figurines were very popular about a decade or two ago but we’re all more minimalist nowadays and don’t like these things cluttering up our homes any more – We seem to spend all our spare cash on electronics nowadays and I’m as big a culprit of that as anyone, especially after my recent technological problems. Once we’ve got the technology we can’t seem to go back.

      Hope all well with you.

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