London Solo Show Opens at Mead Carney Gallery !
BBC News interview at Mead Carney Gallery
(For full film of gallery opening scroll down)
It’s June 5th, the London show has opened, and the weeks have been a blur of unimaginable proportions for me. My life has changed significantly in ways I have yet to explain, but will soon fill these pages in the months to come.
Looking back I can hardly remember how most of it felt, time passed so quickly and those first 2 weeks simply blurred into train rides to London, emails with journalists, promoting the show and appointments at the gallery. The creation of the exhibition was a learning curve like no other, in terms of the production of the pieces, dealing with sponsorship (special thanks to Nikon UK), preparing the prints, the frames, the layout, final artwork selection, it was absolutely relentless up until the moment it was all delivered.
I guess the day it began to feel real was when I arrived at the print studio to witness the huge 2 meter pieces slowly emerge from the mouths of the machines. I had never seen the prints at this size in their entirety, so my anticipation was acute by the time I stepped into the warmth and whir of the production room. The difference of the photographs at this scale was so far removed from the experience of my computer screen, the emotion was overwhelming. They were simply jewels ….. radiating with colour, hyper real dreams imbued with the memories of the scent of the forest, crushed petals under foot, and my remembrance of the soft light falling on us all as I had pressed the shutter.
All the months of obsessive care I had put into my editing, test printing, colour checks …. it was all worth it, they were flawless and I was so, so proud of them. My insecurities subsided, I knew I could feel confident to stand beside them in the gallery and say ‘this is me…. my love, my blood, my passion’. Whether others connected to that was beyond my control, but inside I felt satisfied and knew it was the absolute best I could give.
Film of prints being produced in the studio can be seen here
Typically the day of the private view was not the relaxed preparations I had hoped for. The night before I had been contacted by The Telegraph who wanted to interview me about the series, a huge honour which threw everything out the window. So instead I spent the next morning talking to their journalist, sending last minute frantic files, and dealing with a thousand things, until I found myself gasping for breath as I ran towards the train station 2 hours late for meeting Elbie in London. We had little time to get ready, and by 6.30pm were sat helpless in our late taxi, as my phone began to fill with texts from excited friends already arriving at the gallery.
However, before I knew it we were there. I made my way through the gathering crowd to the gallery office, where I caught my breath, before returning and walking into the arms of my father, and realising it was all real. So many people I loved, old faces I never imagined would come, new faces I thought might not take the time, but they were there and it meant the world to me. I was more shaken than I ever expected to be, outwardly no one would have known, but the hours melted into seconds as I tried to speak to everyone, momentarily returning to the office for gulps of water and recomposing my wired looking self in the bathroom mirror. I barely saw Elbie or Katie and instead settled for passing hugs from them where I could, in between each new introduction.
Everyone was so kind, and it was a joy to see the reactions of guests who were new to the work – their looks of disbelief as they learned the pictures were real, and yes it did take 5 months to build this set, or make that costume ! Adults slowly reduced to children in their glee as I explained the stories and showed the behind the scenes films on my IPad, it was wonderful to experience their delight in it all.
Then the doors were closing and all that remained inside was our little gang, the people who had made the series possible. We posed for silly pictures on phones and finally I could breathe and laugh, and appreciate the work that hung on the walls of this beautiful Mayfair gallery.
It had taken 6 years to reach this point …. 6 years of never giving up. All those those times I had sat on the little bench in the churchyard near my home where I would go when I felt I couldn’t carry on, when I had no idea if I would ever reach as high as I dreamed. I know at this point I shouldn’t reflect on those times and enjoy the present, but I couldn’t help remember my younger self, the woman who had sold her clothes on ebay to pay for the paint and fabric in the pictures that now stood spotlit before us. Without the love and commitment of the people around me in that moment the series would have never become a reality, and I needed to inwardly pause and quietly appreciate every one of them.
That night the gallery looked so beautiful…. finally it sunk in as I walked past each picture, smiling to myself at the memories I had for each one. There were only 18 in the show from a collection of 74 in total, but it was the most I’d ever seen at this grand scale together in one space, and it was magical. How I wish mum could have been there, how I would have loved to have taken her hand and shown her each detail, explained the meanings, my emotions, the stories, and how it was all because of her…..
So here are some of the pictures from the night !
(To see the full set on my facbook album click here)
Dad ….. naturally the first one through the door before I’d even arrived !
The gang ! Elbie, Katie, Matt, Richard, Marianna, and my amazing printers Gerry and Darren at the end of the night.
‘The Secret Locked in the Roots of a Kingdom’ and ‘The Last Dance of the Flowers’ (200cm high) – possibly my two favorite pieces. Together they are quite extraordinary at this size and make such a beautiful pair.
I’m also thrilled to say that this ‘The Secret Locked In The Root’s of a Kingdom’ has just been acquired by the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in the US for their permanent collection, along with the largest size of The Ghost Swift ! It’s my first sale to a museum which feels really special to me.
‘The Journey Home’ ^ was another huge favourite, it looked incredible and so pure. It will always remain one of the happiest shoots in the series for me, simple, stripped back, and a lasting memory that constantly makes me appreciate the beauty of the woodlands I now call home. It is such a precious picture I know I wil love for the rest of my life.
As expected ‘The Ghost Swift’ made a huge impact at the show and has now sold out in both the smallest and largest size, with only 2 two editions left before it has completely gone forever !
Reflections and light make photographing the pictures so difficult, but the clarity of ‘The Pure Blood of a Blossom’ still takes my breath away everytime I visit the gallery. In this case the large scale completely changes the entire impact of the picture.
‘The Queen’s Centurion’ costume in the gallery window
The following morning (my birthday!) I was due to be interviewed on live TV and once again rushed into London for the LondonLive lunch time slot. To my horror the trains were delayed and I managed to arrive at the studio with just minutes to go. I was thrust in front of the cameras with no idea of the questions, and no instructions other than to answer as quickly as I could, as there were only 3 minutes for my slot ! Live TV is certainly unlike anything I’ve experienced before, I was desperately trying to read the face of the interviewer to know whether to speed up or slow down, but luckily it seemed like I made sense !
As the week progressed each day brought new developments, and by the weekend The Telegraph emailed to say that the interview was going to go to print, as well as their online article ! I can’t really explain how completely surreal it was to see the full page spread staring back at me from the Sunday edition. Mums story, a headline in the broadsheets – something I never could have predicted and yet there it was in black and white. To be honest it felt like someone else, until I saw the close up crop they had included of me sitting on mum’s lap as a child. At first I froze, but then smiled at her smiling back at me. I guess I’m slowly beginning to cope with seeing her in pictures again. I know I have a long way to go, but I am now able to keep the original of that photo on my dressing table so I get to see her each morning, I’m getting there…..
So that was the first week and the pace had been set. I went on to do an interview with the BBC News (video at start of post ^) had meetings with Harper’s Bazaar, met collectors at the gallery and the show was published by Wall Street International and made front page of 500px amongst many other articles. The response has been wonderful and most of all I am so happy to be with Mead Carney as a gallery. They have supported me so much and fully understand what the series means to me, as well as clearly connecting to the work emotionally which is all I could ever ask for. The show was immediately extended by an extra 3 weeks, and has just been confirmed it will move to Mead Carney’s second stunning gallery in Porto Montenegro for the duration of the summer until September 20th.
So I write this diary entry with a happy heart, and am excited to see what the future holds. I also want to take a moment to thank Nikon for their amazing support in sponsoring the show and their belief in my work, as well as all the people who have travelled to visit the gallery over the past few weeks. Meeting so many of you has been truly humbling and I have been so touched by everyone’s reactions. I’ve loved hearing about your favourite pieces, your own photography projects, and your reasons for caring about the Wonderland series as a whole. People from all walks of life, all ages, it amazes me the outreach the photographs have had and I honestly can’t thank you all enough, I mean that most sincerely xx
The Wonderland Book
Last but not least I just have to add, that my next diary entry will finally explain fully what is happening with the Wonderland Book. I’m now at my last mountain and work has already begun. The book will be coming this Christmas, and after many meetings with publishers and nearly signing two contracts I have made the decision to finish what I started and produce the dream book I have always wanted for mum, on my own terms. This is something I have taken a great deal of professional advice over, thought long and hard about, and will now enable me to work with one of the most revered book designers in the country. I’m doing this in order to make something extraordinary that truly reflects the series and wont be a commercial after-thought, as well as remain in control of the rights and future of the project.
You can read more and register here for further details, and the Kickstarter will be launching in the coming weeks. I honestly cannot wait to explain what I have in store, this book will be a treasure for us all, and is my thank you to everyone who has supported my work over the years x