It was back in 2011 that I discovered photographer Kirsty Mitchell and I’ve been completely entranced by her work ever since. The art you love is such a subjective thing, I realise, but when someone’s work captures you, when you feel an emotional connection to it – it’s a powerful force, don’t you agree?
And that force has been truly present for the last nearly 4 years since I’ve been following her, watching her grow from when she was ludicrously categorised as a ‘fashion photographer’ (I always thought she was so much more) to an incredible artist who has achieved international fame and recognition for very good reason. She’s staggeringly dedicated to her craft, taking months (even a year in some instances) to get that one perfect shot but this isn’t the only reason I find her work so powerful.
Kirsty started The Wonderland Project 5 years ago after the tragic death of her mother. Woven through memories of the stories her mother used to read to her, she created a world of fantasy that’s truly unique and captivating. Her images are fantastical, yes, and there is so much beauty in them all but it is not just the beauty that calls to me… there is an innate sadness in her work. This underlying grief that plays so heavily into the storyline, the melancholy that underlines every piece and it’s this that draws me into her world and keeps me there.
I don’t know why I feel so connected to her pieces. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve had a strained relationship with my parents for years and so for a while, I dealt with my own period of grief – for the loss of a relationship that I would never again have (yes, it’s complicated). Perhaps within myself, there is that underlying sadness as well – something that I can brush over with pretty things, something that I don’t give an incredible amount of real thought to in my everyday life, but inevitably, within me it remains. And Kirsty’s art resonates with me – this glossing over with magic to hide the pain within.
Up until very recently, I had never seen Kirsty’s work in person – I have followed her through her website, her Facebook page, her blog, her videos and watched the story unfold digitally (oh the power of the internet, how I love you). So when she announced she was going to finally be exhibiting in London, I knew I absolutely had to be there. There was no way I was going to allow myself to miss it.
On Friday, 8th May I finally got my chance to see Kirsty’s work in person at the Mead Carney Gallery in London. It did not disappoint. Seeing her images blown up in front of me, being able to study the detail, to be surrounded by this work that touched me so deeply… it is difficult for me to put into words.
I was thrilled to see my very favourite piece in the collection as difficult as it is to choose a favourite – She’ll Wait for You in the Shadows of Summer.
It gives me goosebumps. I am not too ashamed to say that I may have teared up seeing it. Is it crazy for something to touch you so deeply?
Probably making myself sound like an emotional wreck in this blog post but I think we all have things inside of us we keep buried and perhaps it’s Kirsty’s stunning tribute and the creativity as she shared her grief with us that makes me realise that we are not alone in this, that finding an outlet is a healthy thing and what beauty can come of sorrow.
I would love for you to watch this video on the making of my favourite piece if you can – it will really help you to appreciate how she crafts each of her visions, far better than I could ever explain to you in a post (and the music is really beautiful as well).
She has so many wonderful pieces within this collection but 17 of them are on show until the 13th June at Mead Carney Gallery, 45 Dover Street, London W1S4FF (nearest station is Green Park).
If you are in London and you like what you see, then I implore you to visit if only to see these beautiful pieces come to life in front of you and the detail and beauty within it. I have no idea if you’ll have the same emotional reaction as I do, of course, but there is no denying Kirsty Mitchell is an artist and visionary.
What do you think of Kirsty’s work? Are there any artists that touch you deeper than you are willing to admit? I’d love to hear your thoughts.