Alice in Wonderland illustrator’s life to be celebrated in Chichester

Landscape at Houghton, by Arthur Rackham
Landscape at Houghton, by Arthur Rackham
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THE life and work of one of Britain’s most renowned illustrators is to be celebrated by the University of Chichester.

Arthur Rackham, best known for his impressions of Alice in Wonderland and the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, is to be remembered at a series of events this month to coincide with the 150-year anniversary of his birth.

Drifter, by Emma Martin, is a response to Rackham's work

Drifter, by Emma Martin, is a response to Rackham's work

The celebrations of the artist, who lived between 1867 and 1939, include an exhibition of his Sussex-inspired works as well as a symposium and musical performance by students.

The events have been organised by the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, at the University of Chichester, which provides a forum for writers and scholars to study mythology and other traditional stories.

Researcher Victoria Leslie said: ‘Rackham’s iconic depictions of fairies, goblins, witches, and anthropomorphic trees mix studies from life and nature to create an unsurpassed landscape of the fantastic.

‘His inimitable style and vision influenced the likes of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, and his illustrations for many of our best-loved fairy tales and fables have become definitive.’

I have always been fascinated by the power of stories, particularly fairy tales. Something about them takes us back to when we were leafing through picture books, perhaps reading the words, or making up stories of our own.

Emma Martin

The celebrations open in an exhibition of Rackham’s original artwork on Friday at National Trust Bateman’s in East Sussex, the house and gardens that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s famed Puck of Pook’s Hill novel, illustrated by Rackham.

The showing will also include research responses to Rackham’s work by fine art postgraduate Emma Martin.

She said: ‘I have always been fascinated by the power of stories, particularly fairy tales. Something about them takes us back to when we were leafing through picture books, perhaps reading the words, or making up stories of our own.’

A university research symposium and musical performance hosted in Chichester on Saturday, September 16, will continue the celebrations with a focus on Rackham’s legacy.

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, from Alice in Wonderland, by Arthur Rackham

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, from Alice in Wonderland, by Arthur Rackham

The day-long event, which starts at 9.30am, will feature fairy tale and folklore scholars examining Rackham’s work and legacy.

The concert performance, led by Victoria Leslie in collaboration with composer Jonathan Little from the university’s music department, retells the narrative of Frederic de la Motte Fouque’s Undine, which was illustrated by Rackham.

Sussex Centre assistant Heather Robbins said: ‘We are delighted to present Rackham’s fantastic visions of Sussex and hope his well-deserved popularity and renown continue to spread and grow.’

Tickets for the research symposium and musical performance, including a programme of guest speakers and their abstracts, is available from chi.ac.uk.

Arthur Rackham's illustration of Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling

Arthur Rackham's illustration of Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling

To find out more about the celebratory events as well as the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy of the University of Chichester go to sussexfolktalecentre.org.

Arthur Rackham exhibition runs from Friday until October 29 at Bateman’s, Burwash, Etchingham, East Sussex, TN19 7DS

The University of Chichester research symposium is from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday, September 16 at the Friends Meeting House, Priory Rd, Chichester. Tickets cost £25 each or £20 for concessions at store.chi.ac.uk.

The Undine musical performance is at 1pm on Saturday, September 16 in the Assembly Rooms, 82 North Street, Chichester. Tickets cost £7 each at store.chi.ac.uk.

Emma Martin, from the University of Chichester, who has created illustrated responses to Arthur Rackham's work

Emma Martin, from the University of Chichester, who has created illustrated responses to Arthur Rackham's work