Chrissy Waterdancer Art Blog
Down the rabbit hole Alice!!
This is a project I started quite some time ago, and it's taken me such a long time to get back to it, that I was certain the energy attached to it had passed... But like all things, it has just simply transformed... And taken on a new life, and the eternal archetypal characters of Alice's wonderland have lent me their magic and this project is now completely different to what I imagined it being when I first started it. So I guess it's finally time to complete the journey with Alice to see what comes out!
First I'm wanting to explore one particular character. The Cheshire Cat. He did make an appearance in my first set of conceptual ideas for this set of paintings, however I didn't pay him to much credit before, not to say that he wasn't important to the story, just that he was always there, in the background and not really pertinent to what I was aiming to express at the time.
Due to my own personal growth and a change in where my life is focused now, all of a sudden he comes forth from the background blazing out into the foreground saying "I knew you wouldn't miss this, you see me now don't you?".
In the original story it seems he is overlooked a little... He is simply always there in the background, waiting for his time to shine which in the book, which is not long at all. I want to take a closer look at him while we are here, because I believe there is more to this nutty character than we have given him credit for. In the story, he is the duchess' cat, and he's got this neat little trick where he can just disappear whenever he desires. There are suggestions in Disney's versions of the story (the animation and Tim Burton's work) that he name is well known amongst the other characters, but they also treat him as a part of the scenery.
I believe there is purpose for him in that. The fact that he can fade in and out whenever he desires, potentially unnoticed, or unseen, or make any of the characters doubt their own "sense" by whispering in ones ear and disappear before they know it was him gives him unlimited power to work behind the scene and he could (and maybe he does) have complete power over this world. Like a Mad God playing with the lives of mortals for his own jovial entertainment.
Ahh, but is he really mad??
He is the only one to really give Alice any insight into how wonderland works. He points out to her that while she has been fighting to understand the madness around her and try to get them to understand where she is coming from and what she has been taught it the proper way to do things, that she hasn't noticed that it is SHE who is the mad one, as her behavior does not fit in with those around her and therefore makes HER the odd one out. This changes Alice's perspective completely and actually allows her to start getting her wits back about her so that she can actually really start working out how to "get back home".
Though the Cat comes across as menacing or scary at first we quickly see that he means no harm, and is in fact willing to help her selflessly and in his silliness and playful talk in riddles actually imparts some great wisdom on Alice. However Alice in her panicked and fearful state almost misses this completely as she is too busy demanding to find a way out. I believe this menacing exterior is used purposely to keep others at bay, so that they do not attempt to try and come to close to this character.
"If You Don't Know Where You're Going, Any Road Will Get You There." The Cat say's to Alice... and though this is a riddle to her, there is deep spiritual wisdom in this. In order to get to a specific place (or goal maybe) you need to know what it is you are actually searching for... don't look for the road... the road will reveal itself.... what is it you want? or need? I am also intrigued by the fact that we as the reader assumes that what she is searching for is a way out. However, Alice herself states that she doesn't actually know what she wants. This is something I should like to also explore a little later.
Finally, Alice calms herself and starts to listen to him when she realizes he really is going to help her. He is not an enemy, and though she still misses the point of some of his riddles, she travels through the rest of the story with anxious expectation of his assistance.
I look at this and explore the idea that this world is not the cat's world either, he's not one of them himself, which (even though cat's are typically independent) is why he hasn't formed any attachments to any one else in this world. Not even his care taker. He has learnt what he needs to know in this world to make it around without calling to many peoples attention to himself and he knows the ins and outs of everything. And then there's that permanent smile. There are many theories as to why he has that smile, mine is that he knows everyone's secrets and knows how to manipulate the world he lives in at will.
I'd be smiling "like a cheshire cat" too....
Behind his apparent "madness" there is a gentle, suave nature to him, that I see, that I think also gets lost in the translation. He's really not that silly or mad at all, he's just become very good at not standing out. And this is why she is suspicious of him at first, because to her he appears to be like everyone else, and everyone else she has encountered has either deceived her or is completely out of their minds. The Cheshire Cat is most definitely not what he appears to be. Definitely something worth exploring.