Whilst working agency side in events, I remember gazing at a mood board picture that emblazoned a colleague’s office wall for inspiration. The photograph featured dresses hanging from a tree, lit up like fairy lights. I was hooked on the enchanting atmosphere of the image, as well as the lush colours and the ingenuity of it all. I have often thought of the photo, which was taken by Tim Walker, and if I ever get myself organised and put up the big inspiration board I’m planning in my head for my studio, it will most certainly feature.
And so as you’d expect, when I heard of an upcoming exhibition, entitled Tim Walker: Story Teller I was desperate to see it. Hosted by Mulberry in the East Wing Galleries at Somerset House, the show has been met with plenty of press coverage and favorable chatter. The opening party was filled with darlings of the arts and fashion industry, all delighted to be celebrating the work of one of the most exciting fashion photographers of our time. My Instagram and Twitter feeds were filled with beautiful people taking in the stunning collection of work, and had me aching to see it.
I was not disappointed when I finally got to see it this Tuesday, and despite the gallery being filled with noisy school children for most of my time there, I came away inspired, amused and in awe of the man. Any exhibition that features Tilda Swinton, Terry Gilliam and David Lynch was going to get plenty of interest from me, but it wasn’t just the case that photos of several of my heroes were featured…..it was rather more that part of their immense creativity and ingenuity filled the place. I can only assume that Walker adores them as much as I do (and they probably think the same of him!).
The labyrinthine rooms of the East Wing Galleries were not terribly easy to navigate, but inspired the appropriate feeling of adventure and discovery…..you can’t be sure what you’ll find as you turn each corner and enter every alcove….will it be a giant doll, a skeleton looming over you, or huge snails climbing the walls?! The overall impression is one of playfulness, fantasy and box-of-frogs-style-craziness…..models sit for photographs wearing orchids like hats, people ride tinfoil dragons, and famous actresses are dressed up as literary characters and china figurines.
And whilst one could argue that you could simply view these images online or in a book, what the exhibition really exposes is the wonderfully inspiring way that Walker works to create what are undoubtedly some of the best photos taken in recent years, and certainly in my top list of favourites. Walker is portrayed as a sort of film director, the eye of a storm of creativity.
Perhaps the most revealing part of the show are the six Super-8 films taken during some of his more famous shoots. They provide such an insight into his methods, and are truly inspiring. They could only work in this rickety, over saturated format, as Walker’s work would be ruined by high definition, crystal clear video. These films though portray some of the nostalgia of his photographs, and put me in mind of an essay I wrote in A-Level Art…..we were asked to argue the strengths and weaknesses of still photos compared with video, and I remember quite strongly arguing in favour of the still image because I feel its power lies in a single moment, never to be seen or lived again. And it’s that idea that Walker says give his photos momentum and power. Of course there’s a lot more than that, which goes into making his photos just as successful as they are, but I am at least pleased we agree on that score, even if I’ll never match this genius’ creativity or technical prowess.
The exhibition runs until 27th January, so you’ve not got long to get to see it! I would highly recommend that you catch it though, if you’re interested at all in fashion, art, photography or simply in creativity. It’s free to enter and is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Enjoy!