Photographer Kirsty Mitchell has just released the latest photo in her Wonderland series. Now, just four photos away from completing the whole series of 78 images, Kirsty pulled out all the stops, creating an enchanting trail of 1,000 flowers that were all freshly cut from the forest. Everything about this image is 100% real (as in, no Photoshop), including the costume and wig, which Kirsty created herself.
The most stunning feature in this photo, called The Last Dance of the Flowers, is that beautiful wave of purple flowers that seems to rise from the forest's floor and then merge into the woman's coat. Though all of the flowers on the costume are silk, the ones making up the trail are all real. Starting from early in the morning, armed with scissors, gardening gloves and old clothes, Kirsty worked with her crew in cutting the flowers from the forest. It took them 4 hours to collect enough for the shot and then another 3 1/2 hours to build the set.
Her greatest challenge in creating the scene was that she had to race against the clock. As she tells us, "First of all, the flowers were very delicate so the moment they were cut they started going limp. It took four hours of hard physical clambering around in the woods, climbing trees, and muddy banks, getting covered in dirt and sap, so trying to do this carefully and not damage the petals was tough. Then, building the 'wave' was challenging, because again, we didn't want to damage the flowers. All of this was hugely time consuming, and there was only a gateway of about 40 minutes when the sun would hit the exact spot in the right place for the picture to be taken. So we had to be ready for around 6:30pm.
"We were making something that took hours and hours to create, and had to get everybody in position in time for the sun at the right moment. It was quite heart-stopping because if we missed the window, all that hard work would have been for nothing, and all the flowers would have simply died. We couldn't do it again the next day. They say never work with children and animals. Well, I think you can add 'fresh flowers' to that list!"
As she always does, Kirsty poured her heart and soul into creating this image and then explained the story behind it in a diary entry on her blog. As she states, "Throughout the series I have always used trails in my work to demonstrate journey and movement through a static image, like the yellow leaves in The Journey Home or the powdered colour on snow in Spirited Away. Here I hoped to take that one step further by making the flowers physically lift Katie’s form, raising her up in a surge of colour that would carry her through the forest to the hidden place that has waited so patiently for her arrival. At night I dreamt of the flowers coming to life in this last maternal gesture of protection. Inside my own body I could feel my spirits rise with her, a sense of completion on the horizon for both of us, as Katie’s journey parallels mine in the real world. I am so close now, just 4 pictures away from the end of the series. In the mornings I can feel a change in me, I walk to the studio in a different way, I look up again, I feel lighter, I breathe slower,….. I whisper to myself with each step ‘almost there……. almost there……. almost there’ ………."
If you're just discovering Kirsty's enchanting Wonderland series, you can read more about it in this one-on-one interview we conducted with her back in November 2010. You can also read the full story behind Wonderland on her website.
Close up section one
Close up section two
Kirsty Mitchell's website