I went to see the Tim Walker exhibition at Somerset House on Saturday. I’ve loved his work ever since I saw the shoot he did with Tim Burton for UK Vogue a few years back, in what was probably the most visually spectacular issue of a magazine I’ve ever seen.
The exhibition was called ‘Storyteller’, named for the fairy tale like landscapes and characters Walker creates with his photographs. It’s a word I’ve been seeing a lot, lately: mostly on LinkedIn, listed under my colleagues’ skill sets when I go to endorse them.
It’s an interesting choice of word; apt to describe what we do, but not one I’d ever thought to use myself. Although, I suppose in those minutes-slash-hours-slash-days I spend staring at the computer screen before starting a piece of writing, I’ve always called it “finding my narrative.”
It also brings to mind email exchanges I’ve been having with writer friends, to do with old pros far more experienced than us, and their knack for bringing out the detail of their subjects’ voices, appearance and carriages.
On Myers Briggs (I know, I know - it’s bullshit), I’ve always scored off the charts on N, and I’ve always been proud of it – viewing it as evidence of my Analytical Mind. But recently, it has occurred to me that if I want to get better at my job, I need to pay as much attention to my five senses as I do to the connections between ideas. (Sinking into my senses – music, food, exercise, beautiful things – has also provided solace of late, when the big ideas have sometimes seemed too overwhelming.)
Anyway. Tim Walker. I left the exhibition wishing I could inject a little bit more of his fantastical world into my everyday life: some OTT eyeliner, hair lacquered like gold, a costume more ostentatious than it is flattering, a bug statue or swan boat dumped in the centre of my living room. Come to think of it, I think that’s why I go to so many immersive events – pop up restaurants, secret cinemas, interactive theatre – in the hope that I can spend a night living inside a fairytale.
But as Mr Musings said as we left Somerset House, part of what makes Walker’s portraits so phenomenal is that they’re not easy to do – not even with all his talent, resources, and imaginations. For every photo that ends up in a gallery, there must be dozens of others that never see the light of day.
As it always is.
Cross-posted from What Rachel Did Next.