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Tim Walker Why not be oneself? Tilda Swinton Fashion: Gucci, Marc Jacobs Jewellery: Lisa Eisner Jewelry, Vela, Uno de 50, A. Brandt + Son Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire, 2018 © Tim Walker Studio.
The making of the V&A's Tim Walker Wonderful Things exhibition 2 (c) Jamie Stoker.
Tim Walker Box of Delights James Spencer London, 2018 © Tim Walker Studio.
V&A Tim Walker Wonderful Things Exhibition Installation View - " Lil ".

    Tim Walker: Wonderful Things at the V&A London

    03 October 2019


    By Anna Herring @anna.herring

    A spectacular exhibition is the only way I can describe Tim Walker: Wonderful Things. The V&A’s latest offering follows a string of hugely successful exhibitions this summer. With the darker nights and cooler temperatures of Autumn there is no better a pick-me-up than going to see this colourful, kaleidoscopic, beautiful exhibition.

    This latest showing of Tim Walker’s is his biggest to date celebrating his career in photography over the last 25 years whilst paying homage to the V&A and its’ pivotal role in inspiring Walker’s creative process. However, eager to outdo even himself, Walker presents 10 new photographic projects directly inspired by objects in the V&A’s collections, all of which feature in this exhibition. Shona Heath, Walker’s longtime collaborator and set designer, has designed the exhibition and manages to “guide visitors on a journey through Walker’s enchanted world”. Thus the overall effect is utterly compelling and transformative whisking the viewer away from the city of London into the whimsical, enchanted mind of Tim Walker. It is a world I never wanted to leave.

    One of the most inspiring things, there are many, about Tim Walker is his level of creativity, he is one of the most creative modern-day photographers. Drawing inspiration from Cecil Beaton, a result of him working in the Cecil Beaton Archives during his youth, Walker’s photographic style is distinct, highly original and unmistakable. Rarely using photoshop, Walker heavily relies on international locations from Japan to Mexico. But even more so on the expertly designed sets made by Heath which allow him to construct and create his theatrical, other-worldly images. As the V&A highlights “his unique approach to visual storytelling, blurring fantasy and reality to create pictures that can be surreal, lavish, humorous and touching”.

    Each of the 10 rooms of the exhibition, apart from the first which offers viewers a capsule overview of his career so far, reflect the new series of photographs that Walker has produced with the V&A collections acting as inspiration. The photographs are presented alongside the object that inspired them in a room that represents the theme of the photographic series featuring props used in the shoots designed by Heath.

    The first of Walker’s series Illuminations is inspired by 16th century stained glass panels and a manuscript made in the 1470s for the Duchess of Brittany. The second Lord of the Flies is inspired by the novel which Walker read at school, he emphasises that “it’s such a chilling reflection of man”. Pen & Ink, the third series, is inspired by the the graphic lines of Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations from the 1890s with Walker offering a witty reflection on Beardsley’s work. Cloud 9, the fourth and possibly my personal favourite, is inspired by a painting entitled Krishna and Indra circa 1590 from the Mughal Empire; Walker emphasises “in these photographs, we wanted to evoke that richness of energy, the magical, enchanted quality.” The following series Box of Delights, Lil’ Dragon, The Land of the Living Men, Handle with Care, Why Not Be Oneself, Soldiers of Tomorrow and The Steadfast Tin Soldier are all awe-inspiring and overwhelming as Tim Walker continually pushes the boundaries of photographic capabilities in order to produce these astounding series of photographs.

    Overall, Tim Walker: Wonderful Things is a transformative and hugely inspiring exhibition. To even be offered a glimpse into the immersive world that is Tim Walker’s mind and photography is a privilege and one that I will never forget. Definitely one of my must-see exhibitions of 2019/2020. In a world full of reproduction and duplication; where most things looks the same, it is so refreshing to see something that is so full of individuality,

    distinctiveness and quirkiness. Tim Walker is a master of photography and this exhibition emphasises the genius that he is. There has always been and always will be the age-old argument of what constitutes a piece of art; whether anything apart from paint on a canvas qualifies as being labeled a work of art. I think I can safely say that Tim Walker is an artist and his photographs are without a shadow of a doubt works of art. There will never be another like him.

    Tim Walker: Wonderful Things runs from 21 September 2019 to 8 March 2020 at the V&A, London. Tickets are on sale now. 


    Credits,, @shona.heath

    Images courtesy of V&A.

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