4 December 2011


Outside there's a hurricane beating against the premature cheerfulness of one-thousand strings of fairy lights. They line the city's silhouette, glowing at their strongest over Paris's fattest department stores, and less so in the corner of a backstreet bar, where cheap violet boules on a plastic tree unashamedly flash their cracks from yesteryears' cheap parties. Et, qui suis-je? Just another kid in a big city, seeking solace in Tim Walker's monumental fantasies for Vogue, under candlelight on a dark Sunday night.
Tim's work has universal appeal. His photographs can both provoke joy and nostalgia, or a sadness for a paradise lost. For Walker uses his adult imagination to bring to life the childish naivety of our favourite children's stories of gypsies and thieves and ruined palaces for us 'grown-ups' to re-live. But Walker's photographs aren't like the real fairytales. Bad things don't happen in the world according to Tim Walker, and that's just why we like it. Because the real fairytales - filled with dark princes at the foot of your bed and stepmothers and pills that made you larger and smaller, travels to far-off lands in dark-wooden pirate boats to seek the Caterpillar, and girls running down endless corridors in poisoned dresses - the real fairytales, they quickly engulfed us until it was too late, and they were our own real lives, spilling uncontrollably out of the book and into your lap as you read.
Walker is far from being the only one who seeks to build a fantasy world around him. Anyone who has ever been to a music festival like Glastonbury (see here or here) or Secret Garden Party (see here) knows of the incredible structures, gardens and theatricals sets we humans will build in the name of escapism. There is a communal joyfulness that surrounds festival goers at the festivals I have just mentioned that you will scarcely come across in any other place in such buoyant intensity. One thing we learnt in adulthood from the fairytales was thus : it was better to be a gypsy than a princess, rather a pirate than a king. 
On the topic of real life fairytales, my consciousness is drawn back to hover upon a beautiful film I watched last spring, The Fall. The mise en scene is staggering, with a voracious Tim Walker appetite for colour and beauty. And It moved me to tears, like many things do.


Georgia said...

I swear he consistently uses that field of flowers.. I like.
Tim Walker in Vogue was the first ever editorial I ripped out for my wall. Bright colours with a quirky twist are what I love most
It would be mine

the nyanzi report said...

such a visual feast. he has got quite an imagination like no other and execution second to none.

Rosalind said...

Oh what an incredible post! This says everything about Tim Walker that I feel - his fashion photography excels above all others. I was lucky enough to receive his photography book (large as a bible!) for a birthday present, and there is nothing better to do than flick through image after stunning image. I hope he will go down in the gallery of the goods and greats...

Sleepy Darlings said...

I never knew abut Tim Walker until now, but I've always admired his work. I've seen a few of these photos in the past. Thanks for putting a name to the art.


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