Featuring six levels to descend through, and presenting a community take on Lewis Carroll’s classic tales, Out of the Looking into the Madness offers visitors to The Dirty Grind Independent Artist Community the opportunity to join Alice on her adventures, which comes with a twist of Halloween about it.
The journey starts up in the sky on an autumnal platform. A path indicated by a hand-written sign points the way towards a sloped bridge formed by a book open at the illustration of a certain tea party. The bridge leads to a neighbouring platform. Here the adventure proper starts, with and invitation to jump down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Doing so will take you into the adventure proper – but don’t expect a traditional journey through scenes from Carroll’s tales as seen through the artists participating in the build. What you will find is a more imaginative ride featuring compositions which present the spirit of the tales in a unique format.
The first destination is inside a vast vessel with chalk illustrations of Alice and more on the walls, floating chess sets, time pieces, chairs and more, presided over by the Cheshire Cat and the Caterpillar. A translucent path spirals downwards to a funnelled point, a sign daring you to carry on down. And this is how you progress through the various settings – by dropping down holes, or following airborne walkways, passing through various settings, most – but not all – of which offer a particular take on Carroll’s tales.
I offer the caveat because one of the levels is distinctly non-Alice in tone: a row of spooky shops sitting close to a giant tree of skulls and a horse-drawn hearse. Other twists can be found a well – such as in the Queen of Heart’s hall.
Elsewhere, you can find your way to the tea party, rich in symbolism, and eventually to a garden again celebrating the Queen of Hearts, but with another twist on the Halloween theme. Alongside of this is a separate walled garden; this offers both an imaginative route down to ground level (just follow the instructions on where to stand), and the chance to ride a hot air balloon. Should you take the former, do take the opportunity to explore The Dirty Grind if you haven’t previously done so. If you take a ride on the balloon, I do recommend your heed its warning, I’d wear this, if I were you, when it offers you a package to wear…
With art displays, live music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, The Dirty Grind always makes for an enjoyable tarriance, and Out of the Looking Glass into the Madness offers a cleverly seasonal twist to a childhood tale, making it a more than worthwhile visit.
- Out of the Looking Glass into the Madness (Fender, rated; Moderate)