Making Wonderland: Kirsty Mitchell
I just know that the day I see my mother’s name printed on the inside cover of the Wonderland book, it will feel like I have finally fulfilled my promise to myself…. and her precious memory. – Kirsty Mitchell
You’re never prepared for dealing with the loss of a parent, not really. Regardless of whether it is an illness you’ve known about for months (or years) or something as sudden as a traffic accident or a stroke, despite the fact that it’s entirely natural, we simply cannot be taught how to process it. Speaking for myself, losing my Mother in 2009 left me absolutely broken, in a state of near paralysis, emotionally as well as creatively. If I’m being honest, I used her death as an excuse, not to move forward on anything. It was as if the loss gave me temporary emotional absolution, exonerating me from any sort of engagement or connection to anything, save my own grief.
When photographer Kirsty Mitchell lost her Mother to a brain tumor to 2008, her grief drove her to retreat into a world of fantasy, inspired by the childhood stories her Mother read to her. “In the months that followed, real life became a difficult place to deal with,” she says. “And I found myself retreating further into an alternative existence through the portal of my camera. This escapism grew into the concept of creating an unexplained storybook without words, dedicated to her, that would echo the fragments of the fairytales she read to me constantly as a child.” Originally planned as a short project of only a few shoots, Wonderland has grown into a three year narrative, which Mitchell says “has been a roller coaster of emotion, and an enormous amount of effort, but now (finally) Wonderland is in it final stages, with its completion planned for the end of the summer 2012.” The project has brought together Mitchell’s love of fashion and costume, as well as art history and film. Every aspect of the shoots are carried out by Michell and her make-up artist Elbie Van Eeden. Costumes, props, wigs and sets are designed are created specifically for each shoot and the results couldn’t be more spectacular. Be sure to visit her site for the full set as well as a gallery of fantastic behind the scenes photographs.Daily Mail] [retouch]