‘Wonderland’ Wins Second International Award, Goes Viral and is Published by VOGUE !!
I honestly have no idea where to start with writing this new diary entry. As you can probably tell by the lengthy garbled title, so much has happened I’m at a bit of a loss for how to get this all down. So I’m just going to blurt it out in one over-excited chunk, deep breath here goes …….
To pick up from where I left off, directly after winning the LensCulture award things got a little crazy. Within 2 days I was contacted by The Guardian newspaper (their outreach is global, with over 4 million followers on facebook alone). They requested a selection of Wonderland images and the next day uploaded this article. The piece went on to have over 10,000 shares and a butterfly effect of press was born.
Next, I was contacted by Spiegel Online – one of the most respected newspapers in Germany, who requested a phone interview. Just as I finished giving the interview, a friend of mine texted to say she was on the train to London reading The Guardian newspaper, and was currently staring at a picture of ‘The Ghost Swift’ printed on page 14! I was utterly dumbstruck; the paper had not requested a high res file, or even told me it would be printed, so it was a complete shock. I immediately called all my local newsagents only to discover it had sold out. I ran into the bathroom in a panic and stared back at my bleary-eyed self in the mirror, fresh from the shower, wet hair, no make-up, wearing ridiculous joke Christmas pyjamas (It was December, cut me some slack ! ). So I threw on my coat, pulled my hat down to my nose and drove as fast as I could to the biggest local superstore I could think of that might have some left. Thankfully I managed to find five copies and then skulked back to the car with my prize under my arm.
Here it is !! ……
Below, the resulting Spiegel Online interview –
Things didn’t slow down after that. Within the next 3 hours I had a video interview scheduled with LensCulture about my win and the Wonderland series. Anyone who knows me in real life will know I am much happier behind the camera rather than in front of it, so this was something I was incredibly nervous about. In truth I was completely on my knees by this point, I was so exhausted. Wonderland had only finished 3 weeks before, and since that point I hadn’t had any rest. Everything just kept escalating, I felt excited, wired and overwhelmed all at once, but was also getting a little shaky deep inside. So as usual I pushed these emotions to the back of my mind, pulled on a smile and rushed to the studio to set up a camera, ready to do a live Skype interview.
Setting up took forever, I’d never done anything like this before, and my studio is absolutely freezing in the winter. The piece had to be filmed late in the afternoon due to the interviewer living in the US, and so without daylight I ended up having to be spot lit like a rabbit in the headlights, shivering in my blouse trying to look ‘relaxed’. Usually I’m so good at talking about Wonderland, after all it’s my favourite subject, but by this point I was just so tired and living off adrenaline I was genuinely feeling very fragile. The interview took an hour to film, the LensCulture team were really wonderful, patient and supportive, but afterwards I guess I just hit a wall. I knew I had pushed myself too much and I went home through the dark streets with eyes full of tears, I hadn’t been myself and it bothered me.
Having said this, a few days later despite all my insecurities they managed to put together something really nice using clips from the interview, and lots of Richard’s beautiful behind the scenes footage from the past Wonderland films.
So here is it is –
After the video was released I continued to receive more interest from the press, the project was even featured on The World Photography Organisation’s website (see below). I tried so hard to enjoy the coverage, but it was getting dangerously close to Christmas, it was December 21st and I still hadn’t bought a single present. The next morning I decided I would enforce a day off and go last minute shopping. I deliberately headed to a huge shopping centre far away from my studio, so no one could reach me for the next few hours. However, shortly after arriving I received a message from another German newspaper wanting to rush out a story for the next day, it would be 350,000 copies I couldn’t ignore it. By that point the motorways home were blocked with last minute Christmas shoppers, I couldn’t even get out of the car park there were so many cars, so my husband had to take the reins and send all the information over from my studio while I directed the poor guy down the phone. To be honest it was a relief I couldn’t get back, things were just getting a bit crazy.
As Christmas arrived everything was taking its toll and I became quite unwell, it was the hardest one I have ever had since losing mum. I’m not sure if it was the fact the series was finished and she had been constantly in my thoughts, or if it was sheer exhaustion and the flu that silently brewed inside of me (yet to appear) but I guess I hit rock bottom. On Christmas day I excused myself from my visiting in-laws, and found myself in the car racing against the fading winter light towards my hill, my tree, the special place I go to when I need to feel connected to my mother. I had bought a small pot of roses from a garage on the way, locked the car and stumbled off across the fields, down the old familiar tracks, over the gate and finally out on to the vast misty hillside. By now it was almost dark, ahead the last streaks of red and gold were left hanging in the freezing air, and all I could think of was how I had to reach her tree before the sun completely disappeared. I can’t explain where this urgency came from, but the dull ache in my heart pushed me forward, as I held my breath and slipped down the mud of the hillside until I finally touched the cold bark. I dropped the flowers at its roots, put my arms around the trunk and cried like she had died yesterday, it ripped through me, thank goodness I was alone. The release left me gasping and numb, but for some reason that place always heals me at the same time. I sank down at the foot of the tree, and found myself making a little outline in the wet ground to sit the flower pot in, calmly arranging twigs and leaves at its base like a mother braiding her child’s hair. I had no idea why I was there, what on earth I was doing, but it made things better somehow.
As the night arrived I found my way back to the car through the light of my phone, drove home, wiped my face, tied back my hair and walked through the door like nothing had happened………
(taken earlier in the year, but this is her tree)
The following week things snowballed and I eventually became ill with the flu spending 7 days in bed. During that time I thought about a lot of things, and released that above all I had neglected myself and my well being these past few months. I had spent so long working on the series, the new website, dealing with a tonne of press, and coping with a lot of emotion that I realised my body needed help. I’m always investing in my work whether it’s equipment, ideas, materials, not to mention the endless business demands, that there was simply nothing left for who I am as a person. So after missing all the celebrations of the New Year, I decided January would be my gift to myself. I booked my first holiday in 4 long years, to a paradise beach on the other side of the world, it was time to remember who I used to be. Four days later I left for Switzerland to visit an old friend who had moved there 4 years before – another thing I had put off because of my workload. I started ticking personal boxes for my own sanity and it felt right. I needed the white noise to stop, this year is probably going to be the most important in my entire career in terms of launching the Wonderland book, and planning exhibitions now that the series is complete. So I needed to be well, and mindful before I faced that next mountain.
Since then after returning from Switzerland, several new developments have already happened that once again have been amazing surprises. Two days ago Wonderland won is second International award, I can’t really believe I’m actually writing this but it’s happened, that’s two awards in two months!!! This time it is the London Creative Award, a prestigious competition that is offered across the board to designers, photographers, filmmakers and fine artists. They received entries from over 51 countries, then a jury of gallery curators and art critics from around the world selected 15 winning finalists to receive their trophy at the London International Creative Awards Ceremony (held later this year). In addition to the trophies, on the night one finalist will be announced as ‘Artist of the Year’.
So there you go, my first ever award ceremony ! Can you believe it ? !!
Finally, well what can I say? ….. I’ve been published in the greatest fashion magazine on earth, VOGUE ITALIA ! I have been holding back from writing this blog for a while now because I wanted to upload photographs of the actual physical magazine, but the arrival date in the UK shops is running so late I’m just going to post this digital version until I can add more pictures. Until I hold it in my hands it won’t seem real, so it’s hard to write about how I feel when I look at this picture. I’m so proud because although I have been published once before in the magazine, (which was still a huge honour) it was under the PhotoVogue ‘Photo-Scout’ section for emerging talent. This time my work was selected by the editors separately, purely for its own aesthetic and that feels like an enormous moment for me, not to mention the print size is huge! It’s a dream come true, it really is, to think I used to sit at my desk as a fashion designer and look at all the beautiful pictures in the design studio’s back copies, daydreaming of photography. Honestly it’s utterly surreal.
So this is my catch-up for now, I currently have more pending, possible news I’m crossing every finger and toe for, it seems every day a new email is coming in with yet more exciting opportunities. The rain has stopped and the sun is shining through my kitchen window. My silly cat is nuzzled into my side huffing and puffing in a blissful sleep and I’m finding some clarity and balance, after what was a very difficult past month. I’m learning as I go along, but I now realise I have to be kinder to myself above all things, and try to let go. I have a much needed holiday ahead, and sitting here staring at my laptop screen, the words ‘A new beginning’ shine back at me from the title of the Vogue feature – words that resonate so strongly in my heart right now.
It’s fair to say I read signs into everything like an old sentimentalist, but I don’t care it’s who I am. So, I choose to believe in it, and already feel excited for the next step……. .