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The Wonderland Diaries

The Stars Of Spring Will Carry You Home

By 25th March 2014April 21st, 202315 Comments
‘The Stars Of Spring Will Carry You Home’ (150cm x 150cm)

I have loved this photograph from the very first day I took it over 9 months ago in the summer of 2013. It is full of all the things that drive and inspire me in my work, theatre, human connection, colour, the landscape, and above all a certain unsaid English eccentricity.
It has been six years since I discovered the overgrown mouth of the abandoned path and first stumbled into its hidden tunnel of fallen leaves and twisted vines. It felt like entering the pages of a forgotten storybook where the trees grew gnarled and stunted, knotting their branches together overhead, weighed down with their cloaks of wild ivy. It was a timeless place, one that has inspired me many times over the years and felt like the perfect setting for such a personal scene.

Close Up cropped sections of picture

‘The Stars of Spring Will Carry You Home ’was created to further express nature’s role as Katie’s guardian. I deliberately positioned her encircled by branches in the womb of the woods, cloaked in the precious coat of protective petals given to her by the flowers. It was to emphasise a circle of completion and an acceptance of the bond between herself and the landscape. For me this portrait was really to convey a sense of knowing that time was running out and Katie’s self-awareness that she would soon be gone. It is her last look back at us, a private final moment of connection and understanding direct through the screen. I’ll always remember how intimate and quiet it was that day and how this picture now echoes all that nature has become for me in reality, it is my comfort, protection and the place I am truly myself.


Costume and Wig were made and designed by me, to see the full photographs of the pieces, please visit my previous blog entry here

Elbie Van Eeeden working on Katie’s make-up

The wig had to be wired to the branches above for support

The photograph has since sat on my computer untouched for 9 months waiting for its moment in the closing sequence, unaware of the second meaning it would soon tragically adopt. Little did I know that 1 week after opening the shoot files and beginning work, that this piece would become far more emotional than I ever could have imagined. As I write these words tears are running down my cheek because this picture will now always stand for a life that was taken from the world far too young, without warning and has left so many of us stunned in its wake. On March 5th 2014 our dear friend John Paul Clarke tragically died in a motorbike accident, he was only 35. My husband had seen him just 2 weeks before, when John had talked of moving out of London to the countryside to be nearer to us with his girlfriend Samira. His life had changed so much in the last year, he had found love, happiness and purpose within himself. I simply cannot begin to explain the extent of his warmth and kindness as a human being; in short everyone loved John. So once again throwing myself into work and pouring everything I have into the pixels before me became the only way I could make sense of grief and somehow try to honour his memory.

For a few brief moments we were visited by a beautiful sun burst, this is the only behind the scenes picture we managed to snap at the time.

After the funeral I began editing and the picture slowly came to life. The light around Katie became more relevant and vital with each day that passed and in my minds eye it was how I imagined John. Everything I had mentioned before about a sense of journey, looking back and making a final connection, suddenly gained new meaning, worth and weight. It is the strangest thing how unrelated events can suddenly impact and resonate through something created from a completely different origin, but that is how the photograph evolved.

The coincidence of the picture’s narrative in the story still takes my breath away and for that reason I feel I can dedicate it to John’s memory in the most genuine and heart felt way. I have named it ‘The Stars Of Spring Will Carry You Home’ partly taken from the title of an Epic45 song that for me will always represent love, and secondly for how I now see John and Katie  –  both heading on their paths home. It is about strength and the merging of flesh with nature, completing the circle of energy I feel we are all a part of.  As I have said many times I believe we do not end and that our vibrations simply ripple and grow, becoming all things.  On the day of the shoot for a few brief moments we were visited by a sunburst that sent shattered stars of light across the path and haloed Katie’s form. It was brief and beautiful, like Johns life and I still remember how I had softly greeted it under my breath as my mother. This is why I will always shoot in the landscape because of the gifts it brings us. For me that unexpected light became the defining part of the image and the emotion I will always feel when I look back at the finished piece.

However, despite all of this rawness, I do not wish to end on a sad note because this photograph still brings me great warmth and happiness. It was a simple, happy shoot with all my favourite people around me and I love it dearly. John will always be remembered for his infectious laugh and warmth and I feel that radiating through the picture in the form of the hazy rainbow light flare in the leaves. During the funeral John’s father read one of John’s favourite quotes and these beautiful words somehow seem to sum up everything I feel and can hope for when I think about what has happened  –

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”

(Australian Aboriginal proverb)

So I take comfort in this, have learnt through personal experience that we must try to love and live for each day with no regrets. I am grateful for every day I have been able to work as an artist and truly feel alive in what I do. If I hadn’t lost mum I may have never taken this path and discovered this new part of me, so once again we will try to find some meaning in John’s loss, and continue to love him always.

John Paul Clarke
2nd June 1978 – 5th March 2014

Author Kirsty

More posts by Kirsty

Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Samira says:

    Hi Kirsty,
    What a wonderful photo and dedication to John, thank you so much! John told me many times about your passion to the photos and how you pursued your dream and became a great artist!
    I’m sure that, as always, John is very proud of it and thankful for your kind thoughts and words.
    Thank you ever so much for yours and Matt’s love and support.
    Looking forward to meeting you both.

    Samira xxx

  • Laura says:

    Dear Kirsty,
    I read about you and your fabulous photos in an article in an Italian magazine. I like your style and I am so absolutely in tune with your vision and read your diary I recognize my thoughts. I am an illustrator, but now I work as a graphic designer in TV, I like to make jewelry in my spare time and would like to make a set for the photos of my jewelery collection with exactly the same characteristics as yours. I know that the magic of nature and feel its strong appeal, I understand and feel very intimately what you write.
    It ‘nice sometimes to discover that we are not alone, my best wishes.

  • Lita L says:

    Your work is so beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing the story behind this stunning photograph. I am sorry for the loss of your friend, John.

  • Greg Brown says:


    I’ve been an artist, art director and photographer for 40 years. And I cannot remember seeing anything as beautiful as “The Stars of Spring Will Carry You Home”. I have sent the link to this to family & friends, with the subject: “WHY I BELIEVE IN GOD”.

    That is just the phrase that welled up in me. Your dizzyingly awe-striking imagery brings the lucid dream of ecstatic joy and beauty, to present time, to stop my breath, to take me where I have only ever dreamed of.

    Thank you so much,
    G.R. Brown

  • Rylin Hansen says:

    Hi Kirsty, first let me say that I’m very sorry for your loss, of your friend, and preceding that, of your mother – that loss is the most devastating one can experience, other than losing a child (I’m so thankful that didn’t ever happen to me – knock on wood! My “child” is going on 47 now (!!!) and he doesn’t seem to be anywhere near a place where he might depart this world (knock on wood, again!)
    I am, sadly, losing my own mother now, in a different way (though given your mum had a brain tumor, perhaps the manifestations are not so different(?) ). She has had dementia for several years now, though not severe – til now. My uncle, her brother, died on the first of May, and she has just in the past week declined significantly.

    Like your mum, mine read to me every day, though not into my teens, I’m sad to say. A few weeks ago she tried to read to me, but as of now, I’m not sure she can read anymore at all – just in the last week. If I ask her a question, she doesn’t respond, she just doesn’t seem to be able to process questions and formulate answers anymore, even to simple questions like “is the Alexa plugged into the wall?” or even “How are you feeling?” This is deeply hurtful for me – I’m sure you know what I mean! I have increasingly in the past few months been reading to her; once the Covid lockdown began, I have read to her every day, and after my uncle died I have read to her for at least an hour every day, sometimes even two hours. It’s like I can give back to her that way, although now I’m not even sure that she can process what I read to her anymore. Just in the past week, she’s gone from listening and laughing at funny parts to listening silently, and not reacting to what she’s hearing at all. I am asking the question I’m sure millions of children of people with dementia ask themselves all the time – “Is my mom still thinking inside there? Does what I say make any difference for her?” She’s 89 now, actually will be 90 this week, and her health is not good at this point – in fact, due to congestive heart failure, I will likely lose her before the year is out – I’ve seen a real worsening of the condition just in the past month. It’s funny, I always knew that she and her brother would die close together in time – don’t know how, but sometimes I see things like that, especially with family. I’m deeply connected with them, and so I guess that’s not surprising.

    Okay, on to the photo… I am finding that I’m connecting with your photos on a deep level, that many of them resonate with my feelings right now in a way that really touches my sorrow at gradually losing my own imaginative mother. So, I love this photo in so many ways, but I need to be honest and tell you that I wish you had stuck with the lighter shade of lipstick, that you had on her during the videoed portion of the photo shoot. Dark or red lipstick colors psychologically have an effect like viewing a mask, and it’s actually a way of distancing the viewer from the subject, because she appears to be keeping her true self hidden. This is true of all fashion photography, or personal photos that people post – whatever the context – the subject will appear less accessible if wearing dark or red – unnatural shades – of lipstick. These shades, in the conscious and unconscious perceptions of viewers in our culture (and I’d guess most cultures in our globalized world) are associated with “sophistication”, and sophistication as conceived in our cultural zeitgeist is inimical to vulnerability. (In some more primitive cultures, women wearing red lipstick are viewed with terror – they appear as threatening cannibals to aboriginal viewers who haven’t been exposed to modern western culture.)

    Please don’t take this as a condemnation of what you’re doing – I love your work, and what you are expressing, so much! I simply believe that you can express it more fully by keeping awareness of the subliminal effects of color choices in makeup, and so on. I know that it’s hard to make choices like that if you’re working in the fashion world: dark and red lipsticks are like a cosmetic cornerstone in that world – as mentioned, dark or red lipstick has a connotation of “sophistication”. I have seen photo layouts where the subject has a more vulnerable look, but these seem to be a distinct minority to me. It’s a personal peeve of mine – or I guess it goes beyond being a peeve: it’s a matter of great concern to me, because I feel like it’s an outward manifestation of a culture that prizes “coolness” emotionally – that doesn’t feel comfortable with vulnerability.

    So I hope my thoughts are at least “food for thought”, and again, please know that on the whole I admire and resonate with what you’re doing enormously.

    All my best,

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