Kinga Rajzak in flying saucer with members of the West Percy Hunt, Eglingham Hall, Northumberland, 2009
Tim Walker is one of the most innovative, influential and visually exciting fashion photographers working today. His love of adventure and dreaming has taken him back, time and time again, to his childhood storybooks - something made evident in Story Teller, his new show, reviewed here by Choi Liu.
Olga Shearer on blue horse, Sennowe Park, Norfolk, 2007
Walker's images blur the boundaries between the natural and the man-made world. With extravagant, lavish sets, they are full of detail, which captivates the viewer and draws them into his world.
The stunning neo-classical Somerset House East Wing Galleries makes a highly appropriate setting for his latest show, Story Teller (Walker's first exhibition was at the Design Museum in London in 2008). I went along early one miserable, grey, wet Sunday morning. Upon entering the first room I was greeted by a large-scale Spitfire, crashing through the fireplace, and I was immediately transported into Walker's fantastical world.
Lily Donaldson and Blue Spitfire, Glemham Hall, Suffolk, 2009
Giant doll kicks Lindsey Wixson, Eglingham Hall, Northumberland, 2011
The show is a mix of fashion editorial, personal work and portraits. We are faced with image manipulation every day so it's really refreshing to see Walker dismissing modern techniques and choosing instead to work with a close team of set designers and modelmakers to help transform his fantasy into reality.
Karlie Kloss and broken Humpty Dumpty, Rye, East Sussex, 2010
Tilda Swinton and aviator goggles, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2011
Dream-like fashion shoots entrance the viewer. In contrast, his portraits have great simplicity. Shot against white walls they still retain his sense of wit and playfulness as can be seen in Alexander McQueen with Skull and Cigarette, Christopher Lee in Vincent Price's fur hat and Grace Coddington with her famous red hair brushed forward.
Alexander McQueen with skull and cigarettes, Clerkenwell, London, 2009
One of my favourite images is the triple exposure of Guinevere Van Seenus - a double portrait shot for Italian Vogue. It has a gothic macabre feel, which is so different to his dreamlike fairy tale world which we're so familiar with.
Throughout the exhibition there are a selection of oversized props plus smaller scale models which are featured in his photographs: a white swan boat, snails, a gigantic skeleton, a giant bee playing a double bass and a 15 foot doll. They all help to bring the viewer closer to Walker's images and show the truly amazing craftsmanship of modelmakers such as Andy Hillman, Rhea Thierstein and Emma Roach.
Xiao Wen & Lui Wen as samurai nuns, New York, 2011
The whole show is beautifully put together and visually stimulating. Even the information on the wall is suitably art directed. It's not just simply a block of text but playfully laid out as in a child's storybook.
After spending more than an hour absorbed in Tim Walker's world I did not want to return to the grey reality of the real world. I'm sure I'll be back there again soon.
Tim Walker: Story Teller is at Somerset House East Wing Galleries, London WC2, until January 27.
Choi Liu was formerly the art buyer at M&C Saatchi. She now works as a creative consultant
CR for the iPad
Read in-depth features and analysis plus exclusive iPad-only content in the Creative Review iPad App. Longer, more in-depth features than we run on the blog, portfolios of great, full-screen images and hi-res video. If the blog is about news, comment and debate, the iPad is about inspiration, viewing and reading. As well as providing exclusive, iPad-only content, the app will also update with new content throughout each month. Try a free sample issue here
CR in Print
In our October print issue we have a major feature on the rise of Riso printing, celebrate the art of signwriting, examine the credentials of 'Goodvertising' and look back at the birth of D&AD. Rebecca Lynch reviews the Book of Books, a survey of 500 years of book design, Jeremy Leslie explains how the daily London 2012 magazine delivered all the news and stories of the Games and Michael Evamy explores website emblemetric.com, offering "data-driven insights into logo design". In addition to the issue this month, subscribers will receive a special 36-page supplement sponsored by Tag celebrating D&AD's 50th with details of all those honoured with Lifetime Achievement awards plus pieces on this year's Black Pencil and President's Award-winners Derek Birdsall and Dan Wieden. And subscribers also receive Monograph which this month features Rian Hughes' photographs of the unique lettering and illustration styles of British fairgrounds
Please note, CR now has a limited presence on the newsstand at WH Smith high street stores (although it can still be found in WH Smith travel branches at train stations and airports). If you cannot find a copy of CR in your town, your WH Smith store or a local independent newsagent can order it for you. You can search for your nearest stockist here. Alternatively, call us on 020 7970 4878 to buy a copy direct from us. Based outside the UK? Simply call +44(0)207 970 4878 to find your nearest stockist. Better yet, subscribe to CR for a year here and save yourself almost 30% on the printed magazine.
The exhibition is exceptional and Walker's work is so inspiring.
I enjoyed your review.
Thaks for sharing this work. Loved it.
Ti m Walker - what a fresh approach! Thank you. J