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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Alice in Tokyo



Jenny Watson


1951 -


'Alice in Tokyo' recalls the feeling of landing in a foreign country coupled with the realisation that you are very far from home. This large, mixed media oil painting was made when the artist visited Japan for the first time. It depicts the recognisable character 'Alice in Wonderland', who, upon falling down the rabbit hole realises her body and her perceived sense of scale is larger than her seemingly miniature surroundings. The subject was a response to a specific episode when Watson found herself in a café and completely out of scale with the furniture around her.

Adding to this feeling of alienation and a desire for the familiar, or a more deeply rooted context, a short inscription across the painting's foreground reads: 'Hair was used because it is a personal and powerful symbol of life'. This expressive appeal for a personal connection underscores much of Jenny Watson's work, both conceptually and when considering her use of artistic materials.

This work was exhibited at the Sixth Trienniale of India, New Dehli, 1986, where Watson represented Australia and was awarded a gold medal.


Place where the work was made

Melbourne Victoria Australia



Media category

Mixed media painting

Materials used

oil, synthetic polymer paint, ink and horse hair on hessian


224.0 x 174.0 cm stretcher

Signature & date

Signed and dated c.l. verso on stretcher, black fibre-tipped pen "JENNY WATSON 1984".


Rudy Komon Memorial Fund 2012


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Jenny Watson

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


Ashley Crawford, Art and Australia (Vol. 28, No. 3), 'Jenny Watson', pg. 344-351, Sydney, Autumn 1991, 347 (colour illus.).

Frances Lindsay, Contemporary Australian painting, 'Meaning and metaphor: Australian figurative painting in the 1980s', pg. 33-50, Sydney, 1990, 45 (colour illus.). pg. 43 general reference to the 'Alice in Wonderland' series

Victoria Lynn, Sixth Triennale-India 1986, 'Report of the international jury', pg. i-xii; 'Australia', pg. 1-3, New Dehli, 1986, iii (colour illus.), 1, 2 (illus.), 3. 20

Dr Chris McAuliffe, Jenny Watson: here, there and everywhere, 'Here, there, everywhere', pg. 15-37, Melbourne, Jan 2012, 24, 26 (colour illus.). 18

Colin Simpson, Art now: contemporary art post - 1970, 'Jenny Watson', pg. 76-79, Sydney, 1994, 76, 77 (colour illus.).

Natalie Wilson and Anneke Jaspers, Foundation Newsletter #22, 'Curators' and coordinators' reports: Australian art', pg. 6-7, Sydney, Jun 2013, 6.