Wonderland by Kirsty Mitchell

UK photographer Kirsty Mitchell created a series of elaborate fairytale-like portraits for her ongoing series 'Wonderland '.

"I live in a small village surrounded by beautiful ancient woodland in the English county of Surrey. It’s near London, but it feels a million miles away sometimes, which suits me very well. I live my life between the two places, and have one identity as a photographic artist, and the other as a fashion designer. I have spent my life being involved in the creative industry, and have studied many aspects. I originally trained as a costume maker for film and theatre, and then completed a second degree in fashion design and textiles in 2001."

"I do not work with any stylists or designers, everything has been created by hand, often from very basic raw materials. It is all shot using natural light, and is all on location - I refuse to fake scenery in a studio!"

"I have a tiny handful of friends and volunteers who help me with the props and sets when they can, but apart from that I only work exclusively with one very special friend - the hair and make-up artist Elbie Van Eeden. She works alongside me to finish realizing the creation of the individual characters in the series, as well as spending many hours helping me make the props till the early hours of the morning!"

"A huge amount of time goes into preparing for each shot. In some cases it can take up to a month, and we are always working against the clock because so many of the scenes rely on the extremes of weather (snow for example), or the appearance of wild flowers that can often only be around for a very short time. Sometimes these flowers can come into season all at once and I can be desperately trying to prepare for three ideas all to be shot in the same week."

"Regarding the colors, I take them extremely seriously. I make everything from basic raw materials, which means I often hand dye the fabrics for the clothes to match the exact shades of the flowers they will be shot against. This is where my costume training was really helpful, this attention to detail is normal in the industry, and is perfect for my needs. It means I am always in complete control of the balance of color and don’t have to compromise. You can often find me trudging around my local DIY store holding bunches of flowers up against spray paints, and giving petals to Elbie to mix up her lip and eye colors to match too! So yes, color is vital….. It’s not something I want to fake in Photoshop, I take it very seriously!!"

"Wonderland is a tribute to the memory of my mother who tragically died in November 2008. She was my best friend; she died of a brain tumor miles away from her family and friends in France, and had a tiny little funeral. I remember wanting, needing to do something that would let people know who she was. Something that would explain the gift she gave me, which was a vivid and overly excitable imagination. She was an English teacher and read to me (and hundreds of other children) for many, many years. She instilled a belief in beauty and wonder…. and this is how I wanted her to be remembered."

"Six months after her passing I began the project with Elbie who at the time was a total stranger to me. I wanted to create a storybook of unexplained beautifully strange characters, each within their own magical worlds. In all honesty Wonderland was as much a place to run away from her death, as it was to celebrate her. I suffered terribly with my grief, and the project not only became my therapy, it has also genuinely changed my life, bringing me ‘real’ life experiences I know I would have never discovered sitting at home watching TV. When the series is finished I want to publish the series as a book with her name on the inside cover, and end it all with an exhibition in London."

"All the pictures were shot in the south of England. I’m afraid I don’t disclose any of the locations. I get bombarded with emails from other photographers constantly asking for directions to various trees and ponds, which I don’t think is very fair. I spend hours walking trying to find these precious places, and I think that is vital to the series. They are meant to be magical, special, secret, and that is how I’m going to keep them. The one thing I will say though is that they are all real. I’m shocked at how many people think the lavender field wasn’t real, or the snow pictures were composites. My life would be so much easier if I made it all up in Photoshop!!"

"My aim was to portray time passing, an unsaid journey through four seasons, incorporating every colour in the rainbow."

All images are © Copyright of Kirsty Mitchell

Check her website: http://www.kirstymitchellphotography.com

Source: mymodernmet


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