TAKE A LOOK. YOU’RE IN A BOOK.
By Kimberly Brizzolara.
Crack open the binding. Shake off the dust. Turn the page to Kirsty Mitchell. And uncover a world of enchantment where we can all get spectacularly lost and eventually find ourselves.
When Kirsty ’s mother passed away in 2008, she felt empty. But she looked to old chapters to fill new ones—taking inspiration from the fantastic stories her English-teacher mother read her as a girl.
“Her life’s passion was storytelling and literature and books—the way that photography and art are for me now,” Kirsty has said.
When she began what is now known as Wonderland, her internationally acclaimed and award-winning photo and essay series as a tribute to her mother, she had no idea it would dominate the next 5 years of her life—and lead to such dramatic changes.
Kirsty meticulously documented the creation of each photograph—some of which took up to 5 months to prepare for, if you count time spent building the props and creating the costumes.
Like a yellow silk dress crafted with hundreds of curved silk frills that had to be individually cut, sewn, turned inside out, pressed and mounted by 20 workers on a dress base so large that the model had to stand on top of a tall table with an tremendous hoop undercage to hold the shape.
“Extraordinary characters. Extraordinary moments.
Kirsty Mitchell brings them together in extraordinary ways.”
And then if you count the months Kristy would wait for the the perfect season for her shots, what she calls the “extraordinary moments” that she can combine with her “extraordinary characters,” many photos were over a year in the making.
Like the bluebell wood she had to wait 12 months to shoot after happening upon it—because the bluebells would be gone in a matter of days.
Kirsty , a self taught photographer, left her successful career as a fashion designer behind partway into Wonderland. She had no stylists, designers or professional support teams.
Just passion and persistence, fueled by friendships and the community she inspired as she began sharing her work online.
“Kirsty Mitchell had no stylists, designers
or professional support teams.”
And when she gave The Wonderland Book to the world—she continued to forge her own patch, self publishing the stunning work with the help of the most-funded photography campaign in the history of Kickstarter.
Like our favorite stories, Kirsty ’s photographs surprise, delight and sometimes frighten us.
There’s a mesmerizing tension in the beauty—as the embroidery created by human hands lives alongside nature’s most fantastic patchworks.
The closer you look, the more you can see how delicate the threads holding each piece together are.
“We should stop to smell the roses—
and the dress make of 5,000 flowers.”
Magic and mystery. Depth and highlight. Birth and death. Control and loss.The narrative and artistic elements we recognize intertwine and interact in fresh ways that give us a new perspective.
They make us feel like children again, forcing us to pause and bringing back the sense of wonder we lose in the rush of everyday life. We stop to smell the roses—and the dress made of 5,000 flowers.
Truly great stories transcend the page, sweep us away and then gently (or sometimes roughly) place us back again—leaving us with something new we can use in the world.
“In Wonderland, anyone can escape with Kirsty Mitchell
for a season, or a year, or five.”
In Wonderland, anyone can escape for a season, or a year, or five. Kirsty ’s photographs help us step away. Take a breath. And bring something back.
Now being published in its second edition, The Wonderland Book is available for all explorations, endeavors and escapades. Clear space for your next chapter.
Below you can have a quick look behind the scenes of Kirsty’s creative process.