Wonderland is back! The last time we posted on Kirsty Mitchell's gorgeous series it was March, or almost one year ago, when Kirsty shared with us her amazing behind-the-scenes shots. It's been 9 months since her last Wonderland photo was released to the public, so we're excited to share this second part of her journey which begins with three mind-blowingly beautiful photos (which you can see in their full glory at the end of this post).
What I love most about Kirsty's pictures is that you can just tell that there was an enormous amount of work that went into capturing each and every shot. In a post she just released today, she gives her viewers an honest look into what went through her mind at the start of this daunting project.
"Back in April this year, I had a discussion with an art curator who advised me to step back from the Internet and the crazed world of constantly uploading. Instead, he told me to focus, and push myself to the absolute limit by creating less, but also the very best I physically could. To invest my time and money into something I truly believed in, and create an entire vision from start to finish with no compromises. So this is what I have tried my hardest to do. It's been extremely difficult not showing anyone what I have been up to, and even harder sitting on piles of unedited shoots, constantly having to go from the development of one character, to the next, without the satisfaction or release of editing a final image to share. I’ve watched other photographers racing ahead with their projects and ideas, and felt quite alone working on everything pretty much on my own, apart from shoot days, or the occasional help of friends and the visits from dearest Ebie. Having said this I am so very glad I put myself through this period. I have learned a huge amount about being ruthlessly selective with my work, balancing a body of images across a large number of shoots, and each time contemplating the colours, scale, and perspective based on what was achieved with the previous ones."
Kirsty shared with us the photos, below, which document her creative process. These show how her ideas developed - from the inspiration she took from a children't book called The Kingdom Under the Sea to her handmade costumes and her first foray into laser cutting steel. Interspersed within these images you'll find our exclusive interview with Kirsty, where she explains, for the first time, her exciting new set she calls The White Queen.
From concept to completion, how many total hours went into creating The White Queen?
To be honest I couldn’t even begin to guess. I first thought of the scene and its character ‘The White Queen’ 18 months ago, and had it at the back of my mind for 6 months whilst I sourced the fans from China through a friend. I then began researching paper cuts and looking for antique pieces for the costume in January of 2011. Once I had everything together, I started the physical work on the costume in mid April, and then continued with it until the end of September. I was also making another character at the same time, and of course designing the galleon props, which was the hardest part. The ships took 70 hours to design, but the costume felt like it went on for the entire summer, it was an enormous amount of work.
How is this a departure from your original Wonderland series?
These pictures are actually Part 2, it's simply the return of the series after a long break of working privately on it since April. For me it’s been a healthy and reflective process because I have evaluated the new work as a set. I think the new characters are more complete and much more detailed. The costumes are the most complicated I have made and the most thorough. There is also a much more noticeable story that becomes clearer as the images progress and eventually leads the series to its end.
What was it about Jan Pienkowski's illustration that inspired you?
All the pictures in the Wonderland series are directly linked to my memories of the stories my mother read to me as a child. The book The Kingdom under the Sea was one of my favorites, and I remember being bewitched by Jan Pienkowski’s illustrations as a child, staring at the pages for hours. I had actually forgotten about them until I took an interest in paper cuts when researching the personal history of Hans Christian Anderson. This suddenly triggered the memory and I found myself scrabbling around trying to find the original 1970’s edition online. For me the reason I am so drawn to them, and the reason why they are so perfect for this character, is that they are incredibly unusual, beautiful and magical, yet without any color or 3D form. Wonderland is associated with color and lots of floral details and the point of this character was to create something that was the opposite – darkly beautiful – flat, hard and almost colorless.
The Queen's Costume
In The Queen's Armada, the ships, as I have already mentioned, were hard work as I had no experience in creating such a thing, and physically they were very delicate in places, and could also be damaged easily. They were also heavy when trying to position them in the water with only small supports, and kept sinking or threatening to fall forwards. Add those two problems to shooting the entire scene on water, and having to build an underwater platform for the model to stand on – it was quite a daunting task!
The Faraway Tree
The Queen's Armada
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