Wonderland: A Fantastical Voyage of Remembrance Through Portrait Photography by Kirsty Mitchell

Gaia, The Birth of an End
Gaia, The Birth of an End © Kirsty Mitchell

Part tribute, part conceptual photography, part exploration of costume and set design, Wonderland is an ongoing series of portraits by UK photographer Kirsty Mitchell. After the loss of her mother in 2008, Mitchell found herself in need of a creative outlet to grapple with the emptiness that often follows the death of a loved one. To fill the vacuum, Mitchell began to revisit fragments of fairy tales her mother would share with her as a child and decided to use them as a starting point for a series of elaborate portraits that would make use of her background in fashion design and costume making. The resulting images would form a storybook without words, a sort of visual narrative that people might project their own stories onto.

Everything you see in Mitchell’s photos from the costumes to the sets have been sewn, painted, glued, and assembled completely by hand, requiring up to five months of preparation. By the time of each photoshoot, which generally happens in the woodlands around her home, an elaborate scene has been constructed that the photographer says is akin to a miniature movie set, complete with lighting and assistants, let alone her absurdly patient models.

Gammelyn's Daughter
Gammelyn’s Daughter © Kirsty Mitchell

Gammelyn's Daughter a Waking Dream
Gammelyn's Daughter a Waking Dream © Kirsty Mitchell

The Ghost Swift
The Ghost Swift © Kirsty Mitchell

The Last Door of Autumn
The Last Door of Autumn © Kirsty Mitchell

The Guidance of Stray Souls
The Guidance of Stray Souls © Kirsty Mitchell

The Faraway Tree
The Faraway Tree © Kirsty Mitchell

The Storyteller
The Storyteller © Kirsty Mitchell

The Queen's Armada
The Queen’s Armada © Kirsty Mitchell

A Floral Birth
A Floral Birth © Kirsty Mitchell

Now five years later the Wonderland project has practically consumed Mitchell’s life. The photos, which total 69 pictures, have gone thoroughly viral around the web and have opened up entirely new avenues in her artistic career. Mitchell has just announced a collaboration with FX Media, who is helping to shoot a full-length documentary about the final 10 photos in the series, including a 5-minute behind-the-scenes clip detailing the preparation for each image, the first of which, Gaia, you can watch above. Mitchell also recently exhibited with Italian Vogue and was made Nikon UK’s Ambassador of Fine Art Photography in July of this year. You can learn more about her work via her website and get info on limited edition prints here.

Lastly, please do not use Mitchell’s Wonderland images on your billboard, t-shirt, coffee mug or shower curtain without her permission. Seriously. She’s an exceptionally kind person to speak with and will be thrilled to hear all about your amazing ideas for her work. All images above courtesy Kirsty Mitchell. (via PetaPixel)

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