There’s something universally appealing about the eccentric and highly stylised photographs of London-based photographer Tim Walker.
A favourite of Vogue for over a decade, Walker’s photographs don’t just document fashion trends – they help make those trends a reality. In 2008 he was awarded the ‘Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator’ from The British Fashion Council making him one of a distinguished group of people who can truly call themselves fashion influencers.
Walker’s photographs are like branches stemming from an eccentric tree; each one is different, but still captures the same sense of humour, passion and an underlying desire to flip everything we understand on its head.
Walking around the exhibition at Somerset House provides just a peek at Walker’s vivid imagination and endless storytelling abilities. Whether it’s a flying saucer being chased by a foxhunt or a dusty Helena Bonham Carter imitating a coca-cola sipping Queen, Walker manages to make you stop and stare.
Some of the larger-than-life props used to add dimension to his photos are strewn from the walls or given pride of place as centrepieces, allowing all of the related works to fall coherently around them.
Lots of the photographs are suspended in wooden crates exuding the notion that they’re somehow modern treasures to be unwrapped – like the exhibitors we’re too distracted by their imagination to hang them on the walls.
Walker’s photos are a place where magic exists. His Neverland-style ensembles combine just the right amounts of mystery, intrigue and fashion to be spellbinding. Despite a life-sized aeroplane made of bread and giant cello-playing insects his works never descend into contrived overindulgence. Somehow they just work.
And all this brings us back to the universally appealing nature of Walker’s work. You don’t have to be a photography expert to appreciate these works of art, but if you are a professional you will undoubtedly leave inspired and refreshed. You don’t even have to be a fashion-lover to appreciate just how he can reach in to the designers mind – pull out the thread of inspiration that helped them to create their collections- and use this to his own advantage.
He makes fashion look like it rarely does outside of the designers’ heads.
In the past Walker has claimed that he’s got no interest in messing around with the complicated composition of light and gadgets that go in to making great photos. Instead he creates an image, an artist’s set-up, before clicking the shutter.
But when you’ve got a model, wrapped in pink silk, standing next to a pink rose bush, surround by pink smoke, with apples strewn around her feet, where do you draw the line between a photographer, an artistic director and a producer?
In Walker’s case he is all three.
‘Tim Walker: Storyteller’ runs until 27th January 2012 at Somerset House. Click here for more details.
Sarah Jordan @S_L_Jordan