'Wonderland' (Full Series 2009-2014 )
The 'Wonderland' series is a deeply personal 5 year body of work that began in the summer of 2009, created in memory of my mother who died in 2008 of cancer. She was an English teacher, who spent over thirty years inspiring generations of children with her stories and plays. She was rarely seen without her head in a book, or writing in her own vast diaries, which she had kept since I was young, and so literature was understandably her greatest passion. It is too much to write here, but following her death I suffered severe depression and found myself retreating to into 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 fairy tales she read to me constantly as a child. These memories of our time together were my safe place, a way to remember her that would block out the horrors of the hospital that haunted me.The characters were not a recreation of anything that already existed; this was my own personal 'Wonderland', hybrids born from the pages of their 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, with some of the new characters taking up to 5 months to create, and over a year to plan. I quickly found that their physical creation became my favourite part, the chance to step into the scenes for real was unlike any other experience in my life to date. It made my daily existence a better and richer place, and slowly helped me deal with my mother’s loss. As the series developed it became an elaborate melting pot of my training in fashion design, costume making, and art history. I chose my local landscape as the setting, and searched for areas of natural wonder, which could convey my feeling that despite its theatrical inhabitants, my ‘Wonderland’ was in fact real, and all around us. Overtime I developed a deep bond and respect for the locations in which I worked, and hoped that through my photographs I could remind others of their forgotten magic and beauty. Slowly a subconscious narrative was born that reflected my own personal journey through my muse Katie, the heroine of the story, as she travelled lost through her fantastical world.
Two years in to the project I found myself in the midst of creating the equivalent of a feature film in a series of still photographs, struggling to cope with its demands. Consequently in Dec 2011 I left my 11-year career as a fashion designer behind, to dedicate my future to finishing the series and producing the book and exhibition.
At the point of writing this in November 2014 after 5.5 long years, I am thrilled to say the series of 75 photographs is now complete, and I am in the final contract discussions for the Wonderland book with a major publisher. It has been the most extraordinary journey that has changed everything. Thanks to my camera I have walked on snow covered in flowers, stood in lakes at sunset, painted trees, made smoking umbrellas, and giant wigs from stolen flowers. I have laughed, been overwhelmed, and left in awe of all the things I had previously passed unnoticed until now. My eyes are finally open, and no matter how sad the origin of it all was, I will always cherish the fact that this small and very precious awakening has happened………