Tim Walker’s photographs are usually found on the glossy covers and pages of high-end fashion magazines, but his work holds a different power in a gallery setting as this latest exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery shows. The exhibition, entitled Wonderful People, focuses on the British photographer’s portraits of celebrities, and runs alongside the V&A‘s current retrospective show.
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The display includes over sixty portraits, spanning his entire career, and featuring the likes of Margaret Atwood, Adwoa Aboah, Tilda Swinton (Walker’s long-term muse), Helena Bonham Carter, Claire Foy and Emma Watson. As with all of his works, these individuals are cast into surreal dreamscapes, often set against otherworldly backdrops, wearing striking costumes or holding unusual props.
For Walker, photography is less about capturing what can already be seen, and more about enlivening the imagination. Whilst most of the faces are instantly recognisable, they appear strange, and somehow distant through Walker’s lens. The work, of course, is fantastical, deliberately playful, and yet, something more sinister seems to be lurking beneath.
Standing in front of prize-winning writer Margaret Atwood poised as a witch-like figure holding a long feather quill, one can’t help but wonder whether we’re being asked to contemplate the bizarre realm of celebrity alongside the beauty of the image, to wonder at the power of our imagination whilst recognising the myths it creates.
Tim Walker: Wonderful People runs until 25 January 2025 at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London.