“Wonderland” began in the summer of 2009 and has now been running for over 5 years. It is created in memory of my mother, who died in 2008 of cancer.

My mother was an English teacher and literature was her passion. Of course, there is too much to write here, but following her death, I suffered severe depression and found myself retreating to an alternative existence through the portal of my camera. This escapism grew into the concept of creating an unexplained storybook without words, dedicated to her, that would echo the fragments of the fairytales she read to me constantly as a child.

The characters were not a recreation of anything that already existed; this was my own personal Wonderland. The scenes and images are hybrids, born from the pages of original book illustrations, mixed up with dreams and the underlying sadness of my adult grief. I wanted to create pictures that people would project their own ideas on to, and lose themselves in, each being a visual fable within their own right.

As the months passed, a story evolved and I pushed the concepts further. Two years later, I found myself in the midst of creating the equivalent of a feature film, told through a series of still photographs. I began struggling with the increasing demands of the project. Thus, in December 2011, I left my 11-year career as a fashion designer and dedicated my future to finishing the series and producing a book and exhibition.

Now, I am just two pictures from the end of the final collection of 76 photographs. This selection of photographs represents only the footnotes of the larger story. The overall narrative is about Katie. At the start, we witness Katie’s escape from reality through the pages of a story book. She then journeys through the different seasons and lands of the project. Her journey lies parallel to the stages of my own grief in the real world.

—Kirsty Mitchell

A solo show of the series “Wonderland” is on view at Mead Carney Gallery in London until June 13th. It will then travel to Mead Carney’s summertime location in Porte Montenegro, where it will be on show until September 20th. Congratulations Kirsty!

Don’t miss the work of
all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Visual Storytelling Awards 2014. In total, you’ll find 25 powerfully told stories from across the world.