Photographer Tim Walker (52) drags people into an enchanting world with his work. One in which he paints Persian cats in all the colors of the rainbow, fills a hotel room with a hundred white rabbits and builds a life-size airplane from oversized baguettes. For a Mulberry campaign, a model in a forest was surrounded by meters-high, furry fantasy creatures, in the editorial Like a Doll in front of Vogue Italy a model drinks tea with a three-foot doll. “Just a lot of imagination,” Walker says over the phone from London. “Always had. I am a daydreamer. All my school reports had a note that I was constantly staring out the window.”
The Brit calls it a meditative state, in which his mind ends up in a parallel universe. It often and easily overtakes him, for example on his bike to his studio listening to music, but also on the train or in the metro. He always carries a camera, an analog Pentax, and a journal where he doodles and notes anything that catches his eye. He puts everything he collects in it. From a poem, a still from a movie, a photo from National Geographica color that appeals to him, to a photo of polar bears romping underwater in a zoo.
“I’m open to anything, for that you have to lack any kind of snobbery,” Walker says. “Ideas can come to you in the most surprising ways. For example, a small child can tell you something that you can use to move on. You should always look around you with glittery eyeshungry eyes. Sensitivity and curiosity are the secrets to a beautiful life.” He now has thirty diaries full. Thank Godbecause it resulted in so many wonderful, often fairytale-like editorials for the Italian vogue, Love Magazine and iD, in which the line between fantasy and reality blurs and where hardly any photoshop is used. “Not necessary, reality is often much more interesting.”
Exhibition Tim Walker
This time, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London gave him a huge commission. It resulted in Walker’s largest exhibition, featuring 150 new works inspired by the museum’s collection. Beautifully crafted by British art director and set designer Shona Heath, with whom he has collaborated since the beginning of his career. After London, the exhibition travels to Kunsthal Rotterdam. “No new work has been added, but the Kunsthal wanted to give Shona’s work its own twist. I’m curious, it’s a surprise for me too.”
It made him quite emotional when he first walked between all his works. “An exhibition of this size, which will then also go to California, is unbelievable. You spend your whole life doing work you believe in, but I’ve had a lot of opposition and negative reactions. I never listened to it and now it turns out it worked. If you don’t copy a style that people already know, you will always run into obstacles. Out of twenty clients, maybe one will say yes to your idea. The fashion industry in particular is easily shocked and surprisingly closed.”
Read the full interview with Tim Walker about his exhibition at Kunsthal Rotterdam in Vogue’s new October issue, which will be in stores from September 22 and can be ordered online here.