By STEPHANIE HIRSCHMILLER (dailymail.co.uk)
Kirsty Mitchell's late mother Maureen was an English teacher who spent her life inspiring generations of children with imaginative stories and plays. Following Maureen's death from a brain tumour in 2008, Kirsty channelled her grief into her passion for photography.
She retreated behind the lens of her camera and created Wonderland, an ethereal fantasy world. The photographic series began as a small summer project but grew into an inspirational creative journey.
'Real life became a difficult place to deal with, and I found myself retreating further into an alternative existence through the portal of my camera,' said the artist.
'This escapism grew into the concept of creating an unexplained storybook without words, dedicated to her [my mother], that would echo the fragments of the fairytales she read to me constantly as a child.'
Kirsty, 36, who has a background in fashion and costume design, collaborated with hair and make-up artist Elbie Van Eeden.
Both were in full time jobs so they spent evenings and weekends creating props, wigs, and sets on a shoestring budget and shot in the woodlands surrounding Kirsty's home in Surrey.
Kirsty developed a deep bond and respect for the locations in which she was working and strove, through her pictures, to 'remind others of their forgotten magic and beauty'.
She became fascinated with pockets of wild flowers such as the bluebells that would appear for only a few brief weeks of the year. In some cases, she would wait a full 12 months so she could shoot costumes matched to the vivid colours of nature.