Peter and Jayne Smith’s new Oz and Other Tall Tales collection sees some of our nation’s best-loved stories transformed for a thoroughly Impossimal experience.
From hidden nursery rhymes to familiar fairy tales, the two pieces – ‘All This Over A Pair Of Shoes’ and ‘Snow White’s Snow White Adventure’ – take viewers on a literary journey they are unlikely to forget. Coming along for the ride are his lovable Lost Impossimal characters, adored by fans worldwide.
The collection follows on from their critically-acclaimed Lost Alice release in 2015, which coincided with the 150-year anniversary of the Lewis Carroll 1865 classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
“It’s time to return,” Peter says. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is probably one of the most imaginative and creative popular books of our time. It’s a cornerstone of children’s literature and the inspiration for a thousand more stories; it has no equal.
“A book full of humour, puzzling situations, lateral thinking, mathematics and wordplay are enshrined in a wondrous world of surrealism and symbolism alike.”
Indeed, it is this boundless curiousness that sparked Peter’s interest in the secret world hidden between the words on a page.
He explains: “In 2015, I sat with my sketchpad as my mind wandered. Idly, I sketched out a Lost Impossimal divided between two worlds, and in doing so created Alice…a lost Alice.
“She didn’t look like you’d imagine; she was shaped by interpretations and cherished stories which coloured her face, clothes and attitude. It all felt strangely familiar yet deliciously different.
“It made me think: what if all creators of popular children’s fiction shared one experience? What if Road Dahl, L. Frank Baum, Dr Seuss and others had all visited the same place in their minds where my Alice existed, but had seen something different?
“Had their creations been coloured by an unconscious collective state of mind that hovered between the wonderment of childhood and the real world, travelling one step beyond a dream? And what if that place was real?”
Peter, who originally trained as an architect, has also worked in design with companies such as Disney, Fox, Pixar and Marvel. His wife Jayne has her own art style derived from her love of wildlife and history, giving the duo a unique creative mindset with which to experiment with materials such as clay, wire and metal.
To create the scenes for the paintings, a set was installed at Impossimal HQ. Here, over 300 handmade objects were built and assembled, including a miniature working railway station for the mine scene in ‘Snow White’s Snow White Adventure’. Peter then recreated the tableaux using oils on board.
In total, 17 new characters were introduced to the Lost Alice world, along with 33 hidden nursery rhymes, 14 song titles and many cultural references. It took over 270 hours to paint ‘All This Over A Pair of Shoes’ and 180 to complete ‘Snow White's Snow White Adventure’.
Noting the triumphant return of Lost Alice, Peter adds: “This time it's on a bigger scale than you could ever imagine, in a land that's worth its weight in shoes.”