To help us escape and be reminded of the forgotten magic and beauty in our lives, many artists have used nature and fantasy as tools. We as viewers yearn for a more peaceful world, where we are not constantly reminded of our shortcomings. Therefore, it’s not surprising that ‘Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies’, a painting by Claude Monet, has been reproduced multiple times and is sold as postcards and posters.
Kirsty Mitchell’s photo series, ‘Wonderland’, makes a similar attempt of speaking about pain and loss, by using photographs to narrate fables. In 2008, Kirsty lost her mother, Maureen, to cancer, soon after which she decided to work on a photo series dedicated to her life. Maureen was a school teacher who loved narrating short fantasy stories to children. Inspired by the tales her mother used to read to her, the tales of wonderland brings together an element of fantasy with Kristy’s personal struggle of coping with grief.
In this video, Kirsty Michell speaks about why she started this project and the process she underwent. The photo series has been produced over five years and it took more than just pressing the shutter. Each piece of costume, set and prop has been handcrafted by Kirsty herself. After the production was completed, Kirsty decided to self-publish the book and managed to raise £334,000 in 28 days through her Kickstarter campaign.
‘Wonderland’ is not a recreation of anything that already exists, each photograph is a visual fable about characters from stories that Maureen used to read, combined with dreams and Kirsty’s personal understanding of human grief.