AT Sumerset House
Tim Walker: Story Teller
Supported by Mulberry
18 October 2012 - 27 January 2013
East Wing Galleries, East Wing
Tim Walker is one of the most visually exciting and influential fashion photographers working today. Extravagant in scale and ambition and instantly recognisable for their eye-opening originality, Walker’s photographs dazzle with life, colour and humour. His recent work is drawn from the pages of the world’s leading magazines: British, French, American and Italian Vogue, Vanity Fair, W and The New Yorker among many others.
Walker’s photographs provided the focus of the exhibition, but the camera, he claims, ‘is simply a box put between you and what you want to capture’. Everything in Walker’s pictures is specially constructed and in a glimpse behind the mechanics, there were installations and a selection of the extraordinary props and models on show: giant grotesque dolls for Italian Vogue and an almost life-size replica of a doomed Spitfire fighter plane.
The photo shoot begins to resemble the film set: hair and make-up artists, fashion stylists and costume fitters, model makers, set designers, builders, producers and painters, prop suppliers and a cast of models playing out imagined roles. At the centre is Walker harnessing creative and technical talents to conjure up the harmonious whole in a singular picture.
The exhibition was accompanied by a series of events that feature many of Tim Walker’s long-time collaborators and uncover the influences and stories behind his work. There were workshops for all ages offering visitors the opportunity to work with some of the set designers and prop builders who have worked with Tim Walker throughout his career and talks including Tim Walker in Conversation with Penny Martin. Throughout the exhibition there was also the opportunity to see a series of films specially curated by Tim Walker. Made up of films that have inspired and influenced many of his images, these included cult movies such as La Belle at la Bete, The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death and Tim’s own first feature The Lost Explorer.
To coincide with the exhibition, Thames & Hudson published Story Teller by Tim Walker featuring over 175 inspirational images, collages and snapshots from Walker’s personal archives.
Mulberry continues their support of Tim Walker’s creativity through supporting Story Teller, the exhibition.
Tim Walker: Storyteller, Somerset House, London
HANNAH DUGUID MONDAY 22 OCTOBER 2012 in The Independent / http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/reviews/tim-walker-storyteller-somerset-house-london-8221716.html
A flying saucer chased by a foxhunt and tables laid for a party and suspended in trees are some of the fashion photographer Tim Walker's more extravagant gestures.
Along with a life-sized aeroplane made of French loaves, and a giant insect playing the cello. It’s a world where magic exists and, though darkness threatens, it is never ugly. Beauty rules here, because it is fashion, after all.
It’s a particularly British aesthetic, an Alice in Wonderland world, where edgier models such as Stella Tennant and Karen Elson lark in the grounds of country houses: a pink dress and roses could not make these girls twee. Like a fairy tale, Walker’s imagination can be creepy - a giant doll kicks a barbed wire fence on which a model is stuck - but it’s never frightening.
Not that all of Walker’s images are elaborate. Quintessentially British celebrities appear: Tilda Swinton wears flying goggles against a cool white background; Alexander McQueen’s only props are two cigarettes, one in his mouth and the other in the mouth of a skull on which he leans; Helena Bonham Carter is dressed as the Queen, sipping a can of coke. Walker’s portraits feel stark as compared to the excesses of his fashion spreads.
Walker has claimed that he’s not interested in taking pictures. He has no nerdy interest in light meters and gadgets, it’s simply about holding the camera up and, click, a perfect image. Like the Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz, his art lies in his extraordinary ability to create magical sets that capture the imagination, and show off beautiful clothes. His is a truly British arcadia, in which eccentricity is part of the fantasy, like the Mad Hatter’s tea party. He often references fairy tales, the cover image of his Storyteller book, which accompanies the exhibition, shows a model who has cracked Humpty Dumpty in two.
Walker learned his craft in the bowels of Vogue magazine, working on Cecil Beaton’s archive. He went on to assist Richard Avedon in New York. Even though his work is unmistakably contemporary there is nostalgia wthin it, for the leisured class and their rounds of tea parties, rose gardens and fox hunting. So, as the end approaches, why not drink champagne and have one last dance.
To 27 January 2014 (www.somersethouse.org.uk)