Gillian Kirkland + Fiona Morrison

Wasted Wonderland

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Drifting through the murky city-scape, there is a flash of white magic. It looks something like the white rabbit from our childhood and we follow its milky heels. Dashing through crowds of strangers clad in black suits, it glows with icy uncertainty as if it will melt at any moment. Its wet paws pick up torn newspapers and cigarette butts like a snow-ball rolling through a rubbish heap, but still it moves on, and we take care not to lose its bushy tail in the crowd.
No one else seems to notice the white rabbit, even as it stops at the corner and disappears through a tiny door next to the main entrance of ‘The Bank’.  The hinge of the Imagination, where it meets with Reason, is creaky as the oldest spine in the oldest book, and as we open the little door through which the rabbit vanished before us, we think of all the extraordinary things we might find. Instead we find nothing but a great drop where we
Down as in a dream, the fall is not sudden, and we can see the outline of the rabbit falling beneath us. It drops

as fast
and drifts
as slow
as a falling
of snow.

Swinging from side to side as if hung from pieces of invisible string, we feel the incessant bumping of unaccountable objects - probably from story-books - cramming for space around us. We are falling through a narrow well whose dark walls can be neither touched nor seen. The strings and springs of our imagination at at work, and we know we are drifting ever closer to the watery webs of wonderland.
Empty pictures and unreflecting mirrors fly towards us to seize us into their glistening frames, and hundreds of books cram round, opening and shutting, biting the air as if their stories are hungry for a new character. But we are caught in a tale of our own; that of the white rabbit who (as we look down) is running its icy paws over all the things that float in the well. Slowly everything starts to take on the rabbit’s white sheen, glowing with uncertainty for a moment, before turning into something else…
There is a sudden cracking sound as familiar fairy-tale accessories fall to pieces and we think we see disembodied mermaid tails dropping with the sails from the last pirate ship that fell over the edge of the world. Magical mirrors smash and scrape our skin before turning back into sand that rains down on books reduced to pieces of pulp, words reduced to woodland. A slimy trail of mermaid-scales drips down our pores before congealing with a waterfall of sand and ashes, woodland and eyelashes, which takes us down with it to the pits of a wasted wonderland.
Where have we fallen? Darkness is all around and our fingers clutch onto who knows what. An electric white light suddenly invades the blackness and we find the shining silhouette of the white rabbit crouched in the corner, human-like, and much larger than we remember. It slowly peels cigarette butts and news headlines off its slippery, snake-like skin, before turning round to face us for the first time. White. Icy white. Sheen of monstrosity. It has stolen the graceful arms of ballet-dancers to move with, and the bestial hands of bears to feel with. It has swallowed fire to see with, and stolen the hearts of children to smell with. Run!

And as we run, its icy breath is on our necks. Don’t look back! As our hands reach out to find dark walls closing in on us, the tip of the rabbit’s long-nailed paw pokes our shoulders. Don’t look back! As a drop of white rabbit falls down our backs like an icy tear we can see day-light in the distance. And as the polluted air of the real world surrounds our senses, the voice of our childish past continues to haunt us as we walk through city streets. Don’t look back.