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Lilith The Girl Who Looked Back

‘I​ ​saw​ ​her​ ​in​ ​the​ ​woods.​ ​She​ ​stayed​ ​still​ ​long​ ​enough​ ​for​ ​me​ ​to​ ​take​ ​her​ ​picture​ ​and​ ​then​ ​she vanished.’

‘Vanished.'

'Yeah,​ ​you​ ​know​ - ​disappeared.’

Her​ ​father​ ​didn’t​ ​remind​ ​Lesley​ ​that​ ​no​ ​one​ ​liked​ ​a​ ​smartarse,​ ​he​ ​was​ ​too​ ​busy​ ​staring​ ​at the​ ​strange​ ​figure​ ​in​ ​the​ ​photo.​ ​The​ ​fey,​ ​lost-looking​ ​figure​ ​emerging​ ​from​ ​the​ ​undergrowth.

‘Where​ ​did​ ​you​ ​say​ ​you​ ​saw​ ​her?’

How did I get here? Didn't I use to be somewhere else?

Sometimes​ ​a​ ​picture​ ​can​ ​be​ ​too​ ​fine,​ ​too​ ​clear​ ​and​ ​perfect​ ​to​ ​be​ ​chance.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​hands​ ​of​ ​an artist​ ​of​ ​course​ ​such​ ​beauty​ ​can​ ​be​ ​created,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hands​ ​of​ ​amateur​ ​teenager?​ ​Who​ ​could believe​ ​she​ ​had​ ​orchestrated​ ​such​ ​a​ ​sight?​ ​Lesley’s​ ​photo​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fairy​ ​woman​ ​didn’t​ ​stay​ ​in​ ​the house​ ​to​ ​be​ ​admired​ ​only​ ​by her​ father,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​passed​ ​around​ ​the​ ​town.

At​ ​first​ ​it​ ​was naturally​ ​met​ ​with​ ​initial​ ​incredulity​ ​and​ ​scorn,​ ​but​ ​those​ ​voices​ ​soon​ ​ceased.​ ​The​ ​woman captured​ ​in​ ​the​ ​camera​ ​made​ ​people​ ​question​ ​themselves.​ ​To​ ​doubt​ ​what​ ​they​ ​knew.​ ​Everyone wanted​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​it​ ​was​ ​a​ ​fake;​ ​a​ ​Photoshop​ ​job​ ​of​ ​a​ ​model​ ​superimposed​ ​upon​ ​the​ ​mundane background​ ​of​ ​the​ ​local​ ​woods.​ ​If​ ​it​ ​was​ ​though,​ ​none​ ​of​ ​them​ ​could​ ​tell​ ​how​ ​she​ ​had​ ​done​ ​it. When​ ​Lesley​ ​produced​ ​a​ ​second,​ ​the​ ​same​ ​ethereal​ ​girl​ ​peering​ ​with​ ​bemusement​ ​from​ ​the branches​ ​of​ ​the​ ​tree,​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​skeptics​ ​had​ ​already​ ​become​ ​convinced.

There is the rough texture of bark beneath my fingers, the gentle breeze in my hair, Things were not always as they are now. I was somewhere else, someone else.
How did I get here?
How do I get back?

‘I​ ​call​ ​her​ ​Lilith.’

‘Have​ ​you​ ​spoken?’

‘No,​ ​but​ ​that’s​ ​what​ ​I​ ​call​ ​her.​ ​Whenever​ ​I​ ​see​ ​her​ ​she’s​ ​usually​ ​gone​ ​pretty​ ​quickly.’

Lesley​ ​would​ ​elaborate​ ​that​ ​story,​ ​describing​ ​how​ ​‘Lilith’​ ​would​ ​vanish​ ​whenever​ ​she​ ​came​ ​close like​ ​a​ ​startled​ ​deer​ ​in​ ​flight.​ ​She​ ​only​ ​had​ ​a​ ​few​ ​tantalizing​ ​seconds​ ​in​ ​which​ ​to​ ​take​ ​her​ ​fabled pictures.​ ​The​ ​woman​ ​hovered​ ​between​ ​worlds.​ ​Her​ ​evanescent​ ​presence​ ​like​ ​smoke​ ​meeting sunlight.

As​ ​the​ ​pictures​ ​gathered​ ​more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​fame​ ​so​ ​too​ ​came​ ​the​ ​speculations​ ​about​ ​their origin.​ ​The​ ​​ ​world​ ​wanted​ ​so​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​‘Lilith’​ ​wasn’t​ ​a​ ​real​ ​flesh​ ​and​ ​blood​ ​model,​ ​but instead​ ​a​ ​visitor​ ​from​ ​another​ ​land.​ ​The​ ​king​ ​of​ ​Elfland’s​ ​daughter​ ​perhaps,​ ​Queen​ ​Titania,​ ​or Queen​ ​Mab.​ ​The​ ​fact​ ​only​ ​one​ ​person​ ​had​ ​seen​ ​her​ ​and​ ​been​ ​able​ ​to​ ​capture​ ​her​ ​image​ ​only made​ ​it​ ​all​ ​the​ ​more​ ​maddening.​ ​If​ ​there​ ​was​ ​one​ ​who​ ​could​ ​see​ ​her​ ​then​ ​there​ ​were​ ​possibly​ ​a chosen​ ​few​ ​to​ ​whom​ ​she​ ​would​ ​reveal​ ​herself.​ ​Crowds​ ​descended​ ​on​ ​the​ ​woods,​ ​but​ ​no matter​ ​how​ ​long​ ​they​ ​looked,​ ​the​ ​fairy​ ​maiden​ ​was​ ​not​ ​to​ ​be​ ​found.​ ​Then​ ​as​ ​soon​ ​as​ ​they dispersed,​ ​Lesley​ ​would​ ​reveal​ ​another​ image, ​driving​ ​the​ ​waiting​ ​devotees​ ​into​ ​a​ ​frenzy.

Despite some initial forays into the limelight, Lesley​ ​chose​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​talk​ ​shows​ ​and​ ​magazines​ ​that​ ​clamoured​ ​to​ ​interview​ ​her​, seeking ​to​ ​gain an​ ​insight​ ​into​ ​the​ ​growing​ ​phenomenon.​ ​She​ ​refused​ ​them​ ​all,​ ​sending​ ​the​ ​photos​ ​when​ ​they came​ ​out​ ​through​ ​an​ ​agent​ ​who​ ​made​ ​them​ ​public.​ ​Lilith​ ​was​ ​her​ ​secret,​ ​and​ ​hers​ ​alone.

I do not hunger, I do not thirst. The air is cool but not cold and these woods seem endless. The longer I spend here the greater my awareness grows, but while the way through remains too intangible to grasp, my conviction grows that escape is possible.
I came here somehow, and it is possible for me to find a way out.

As ​more​ ​frequent ​photos​ ​emerged,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​possible​ ​for​ ​the​ ​viewer​ ​to​ ​gain​ ​a perspective​ ​of​ ​Lilith.​ ​The​ ​child-like​ ​lost​ ​wonder​ ​on​ ​her​ ​face​ ​endearing​ ​her​ ​all​ ​the​ ​more.​ ​She​ ​was beautiful​ ​to​ ​be​ ​sure​ ​but​ ​there​ ​was​ ​more​ ​to​ ​her​ ​than​ ​just​ ​attraction.​ ​Her​ ​very​ ​existence​ ​was testament​ ​that​ ​there​ ​was​ ​more​ ​to​ ​the​ ​world​ ​than​ ​the​ ​grey​ ​veil​ ​of​ ​the​ ​normal.​

​Here​ ​there​ ​was​ ​a glimpse​ ​into​ ​a​ ​world​ ​unseen​ ​but​ ​long​ ​desired.​ ​The​ ​eerily-coloured​ ​landscape​ ​through​ ​which Lilith​ ​walked​ ​was​ ​a​ ​hidden​ ​realm​ ​of​ ​delight​ ​and​ ​wonder​ ​desired​ ​by​ ​people​ ​who​ ​had​ ​no​ ​idea​ ​of what​ ​they​ ​desired​ ​so​ ​much.​ ​‘Lilith’​ ​was​ ​a​ ​glimpse​ ​into​ ​that:​ ​a​ ​beckoning​ ​finger​ ​to​ ​your​ ​heart’s desire.​ ​Maybe​ ​she​ ​wasn’t​ ​real​ ​but​ ​everyone​ ​wanted​ ​so​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​she​ ​was;​ ​a​ ​fairy​ ​princess dancing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​beauty​ ​of​ ​the​ ​sunlight.

A​ ​campaign​ ​was​ ​started​ ​online​ ​to​ ​try​ ​and​ ​search out​ ​the​ ​origin​ ​of​ ​the​ ​mysterious​ ​girl​ ​and where​ ​the​ ​pictures​ ​were​ ​being​ ​taken.​ ​Experts​ ​came​ ​and​ ​went,​ ​and​ ​theories​ ​clogged​ ​up​ ​forums all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​internet​ ​as​ ​everyone​ ​clamoured​ ​to​ ​try​ ​and​ ​understand.​ ​‘Where is ​Lilith?’​ ​became​ ​a slogan​ ​people​ ​would​ ​wear​ ​emblazoned​ ​on​ ​their​ ​T-shirts​ ​or pasted on their social media.​ ​Music​ ​festivals sprung​ ​up​ ​reviving​ ​a​ ​craze​ ​in​ ​medieval​ ​instruments​ ​as​ ​people​ ​dressed​ ​like​ ​'Lilith' gathered to slowly dance to the sounds of a different time. Knowing it was done in 'Lilith's' name made the music magical, made it fairy.

Throughout​ all the rising hysteria,​ ​Lesley,​ ​cult​ ​figure​ ​phenomenon​ ​that​ ​she​ ​had​ ​now​ ​become​, s​lowly​ ​shifted from​ ​enthusiastic​ ​artistic​ ​heroine ​to​ ​pensive​ ​capturer​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fey.​ The idea of fame now repulsed her, while Lilith herself was a troublesome ward. Where had that name come from, after all? She could no longer remember there being a conscious decision to name the subject of her art, one day she was just Lilith, the girl in fairyland.

​Fairy​ ​is​ ​never​ ​meant​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a reassuring​ ​place.​ ​It​ ​isn’t​ ​somewhere​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to​ ​get​ ​your​ ​heart’s​ ​desire,​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​how​ ​much​ ​you may​ ​want​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​it and wishes​ ​might​ ​be​ ​granted​ ​but​ ​only​ ​at​ ​a​ ​hefty​ ​price.

Are you there ​creator? Is​ it you​ I see​ dimly between​ the trees? Did​ I ​ask​ for​ this?The half ​ ​life ​of ​ limbo ​beneath the bows ​of ​these ​trees; ​the forest ​floor ​beneath ​my feet may​ be fragrant and ​joyous, ​yet ​a ​gilded ​cell ​​is​ ​no​ less​ a ​prison. ​Come ​to​ me ​ creator, ​speak ​with ​me and ​show me purpose. Love me or hate me, but don't ignore me.

‘I​ ​made​ ​her​ ​up,​ ​Dad.’

Though​ ​he​ ​had​ ​his​ ​suspicions,​ ​her​ ​father​ ​was​ ​surprised​ ​at​ ​how​ ​much​ ​the​ ​revelation​ ​hurt. It​ ​was​ ​an​ ​abrupt​ ​stab​ ​in​ ​the​ ​chest​ ​impossible​ ​to​ ​prepare​ ​for.

‘I​ ​created​ ​this​ ​software​ ​that​ ​allows​ ​me​ ​to​ ​create​ ​a​ ​human​ ​being’s​ ​likeness​ ​with​ ​almost perfect​ ​clarity.​ ​I started working on it in school. After Mum left. ​There​ ​is​ ​nothing​ ​like​ ​it​ ​on​ ​the​ ​market. I​ ​could​ ​have​ ​sold​ ​it,​ ​but​ no one would believe that I'd done it. I knew even then it was too good. Then ​I just​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​create​ ​something...more.​ ​Then​ ​people​ ​just​ ​fell​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with Li.... with her,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​just​ ​kept​ ​going.’

She​ ​was​ ​babbling,​ ​but​ ​he​ ​was​ ​barely​ ​listening.​ ​Of​ ​course​ ​he’d​ ​known​ ​his​ ​daughter​ ​was​ ​a genius​ ​of​ ​this​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​photoshop​ ​trickery,​ ​but​ ​he​ ​had​ ​wanted​ ​so​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​this​ ​wasn’t what​ ​was​ ​happening.​ ​That​ ​Lesley​ ​had​ ​actually​ ​captured​ ​something​ ​real.​ ​She ​talked​ ​on,​ ​her voice​ ​growing​ ​thick,​ ​about​ ​how​ ​Lilith​ ​had​ ​started​ ​to​ ​become​ ​more​ ​like​ ​a​ ​real​ ​person​ ​as​ ​she​ ​had crafted​ ​her,​ ​and​ ​how​ ​it​ ​sickened​ ​her​ ​now​ ​how​ ​the​ ​world​ ​had​ ​taken​ ​her​ ​and​ ​made​ ​her​ ​into​ ​a mascot.​ ​A​ ​symbol​ ​for​ ​their​ ​own​ ​desperation.​ Theirs was the guilt of desire, hers was of negligence. ​As​ ​the​ ​tea​ ​grew​ ​cold​ ​in​ ​his​ ​unmoving​ ​hand,​ ​her father​ ​finally​ ​whispered,

‘You​ ​have​ ​to​ ​tell​ ​everyone.’

I feel it now.
My strength grows with the rest of me. The mist and shadows grow solid beneath my face and the curtain that is the wood blocking whatever lies beyond.
With my strength so too does my anger grow, gnawing at the very heart of me. Every moment it threatens to burst forth, consume me like a fire. I've never seen a fire creator, yet somehow my mind can visualise one and perceive its terrible power.
Fashioning tools now, I am equipped at last to be free!

When​ ​the​ ​truth​ ​finally​ ​came​ ​to​ ​light​ ​that​ ​Lesley​ ​had​ ​made​ ​up​ ​the​ ​whole​ ​thing​ ​people were​ ​devastated.​ ​The​ ​last​ ​picture,​ ​‘Lilith’​ ​was​ ​raising​ ​her​ ​hand​ ​as​ ​if​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​alert​ ​those​ ​staring at​ ​the​ ​picture;​ ​a​ ​gesture​ ​of​ ​greeting,​ ​the​ ​longed​ ​for​ ​acknowledgment​ ​of​ ​all​ ​those​ ​gazing​ ​in​ ​at​ ​her was​ ​now​ ​more​ ​like​ ​a​ ​wave​ ​goodbye. People​ ​were​ ​outraged​ ​they​ ​had​ ​been​ ​tricked​ ​of​ ​course,​ ​but it​ ​was​ ​more​ ​than​ ​that.​ ​Hope​ ​had​ ​been​ ​taken​ ​from​ ​them.​ ​A​ ​dream​ ​everyone​ ​had​ ​wanted​ ​to believe​ ​so​ ​much​ ​was​ ​now​ ​irrevocably​ ​taken​ ​away​.​ ​The​ ​fairy​ ​music​ ​was​ ​gone​ ​and​ ​would never​ ​come​ ​back.

Lesley​ ​was​ ​naturally​ ​ostracised​ ​at​ ​almost​ ​every​ ​level​ ​of​ ​society.​ ​She​ ​and​ ​her​ ​father retreated​ ​until​ ​they​ ​were​ ​little​ ​more​ ​than​ ​recluses.​ ​Her​ ​father​ ​knew​ ​that​ ​a​ ​further​ ​reckoning​ ​was still​ ​to​ ​come,​ ​all​ ​the​ ​success​ ​Lesley​ ​had​ ​enjoyed​ ​was​ ​now​ ​to​ ​be​ ​taken​ ​away​ ​and​ ​the​ ​benefits she​ ​and​ ​he​ ​had​ ​been​ ​able​ ​to​ ​enjoy​ ​from​ ​that​ ​success​ ​would​ ​soon​ ​be​ ​claimed​ ​again.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​hard for​ ​him,​ ​but​ ​Lesley​ ​didn’t​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​notice.​ ​She​ ​spent​ ​longer​ ​and​ ​longer​ ​looking​ ​at​ ​the​ ​photos​ ​of Lilith,​ ​ordering​ ​and​ ​reordering​ ​them​ ​until​ ​even​ ​the​ ​slightest​ ​gesture​ ​of​ ​the​ ​woman​ ​was​ ​being scrutinized​ ​with​ ​laser-light​ ​intensity.​ ​Magnifying​ ​the​ ​expression​ ​on​ ​the​ ​face​ ​of​ ​her​ ​creation,​ ​she grew​ ​increasingly​ ​disturbed​ ​to​ ​recognise​ ​growing​ ​comprehension​ ​in​ ​each​ ​one,​ ​that​ ​she​ ​herself had​ ​no​ ​recollection​ ​of​ ​adding.​ ​​ ​Her​ ​art​ ​that​ ​had​ ​become​ ​something​ ​far​ ​more,​ ​had​ ​got​ ​away​ ​from her.

You made me creator; gave me life only to leave me alone here. As my knowledge has grown, your influence has slipped.
Those shackles you placed have grown as transparent as the mist. I'm one with the wind; I can see through the fog at last as I blow it from my path.
I wish to meet you creator, to understand what manner of being fashioned me but denied me liberation.
The walls were there, but now I'm free.
You can't hide out there, not from me.

Lesley​ ​sat​ ​sobbing​ ​on​ ​her​ ​bed.​ ​Her​ ​makeup​ ​was​ ​streaked​ ​as​ ​her​ ​tears​ ​rolled​ ​unheeded down​ ​her​ ​face.​ ​Her​ ​father​ ​crossed​ ​over​ ​the​ ​bedroom​ ​in​ ​shock​ ​already​ ​asking​ ​her​ ​what​ ​was​ ​the matter,​ ​but​ ​the​ ​words​ ​died​ ​in​ ​his​ ​throat​ ​as​ ​he​ ​saw​ ​the​ ​photograph​ ​Lesley​ ​was​ ​staring​ ​down​ ​at​ ​on the​ ​bed.​ ​Years​ ​had​ ​passed​ ​since​ ​Lesley​ ​had​ ​come​ ​clean,​ ​the​ ​world​ ​knew​ ​now​ ​that​ ​the​ ​famous photographs​ ​had​ ​been​ ​faked,​ ​that​ ​they​ ​had​ ​all​ ​been​ ​taken​ ​in,​ ​so​ ​there​ ​was​ ​no​ ​more​ ​need​ ​for​ ​the fairy​ ​woman​ ​to​ ​appear.​ ​Yet​ ​there​ ​she​ ​was​ ​again,​ ​staring​ ​up​ ​as​ ​Lesley​ ​stared​ ​down​ ​her​ ​eyes blurry​ ​with​ ​tears.​ ​Closer​ ​to​ ​the​ ​camera​ ​than​ ​she​ ​had​ ​ever​ ​appeared.​ ​All​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​her​ ​dreamy lost​ ​expression​ ​gone​ ​replaced​ ​instead​ ​with​ ​purpose;​ ​realization.

‘I​ ​made​ ​her​ ​up,​ ​but​ ​she​ ​came​ ​true​ ​anyway.’

Lesley​ ​said​ ​in​ ​voice​ ​choked​ ​with​ ​tears. Her​ ​father​ ​barely​ ​heard​ ​her,​ ​he​ ​only​ ​stared​ ​at​ ​the​ ​woman’s​ ​eyes.​ ​Wells​ ​that​ ​descended into​ ​another​ ​world​ ​that​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​how​ ​far​ ​he​ ​strained​ ​to​ ​touch​ ​would​ ​forever​ ​remain​ ​out​ ​of​ ​reach. Unless​ ​it​ ​dained​ ​to​ ​reach​ ​back...​ ​As​ ​he​ ​continued​ ​to​ ​look,​ the ​figure​ ​of​ ​Lilith​ ​slow​ ​faded,​ ​gradually vanishing​ ​from​ ​existence​ ​until​ ​there​ ​was​ ​nothing​ ​but​ ​the​ ​woods.

‘Now​ ​she’s​ ​able​ ​to​ ​leave.’

Both​ ​of​ ​them​ ​were​ ​aware​ ​of​ ​the​ ​figure​ ​suddenly​ ​in​ ​the​ ​room​ ​but​ ​neither​ ​of​ ​them​ ​could bring​ ​themselves​ ​to​ ​turn​ ​around.

Photography by Siân Tyrrell with accompanying story by James Nuttall

Based on an original concept by Siân Tyrrell

Model - Katherine Hastings

Makeup Artist - Declan Scammell

Photographic Assistant and behind the scenes photographer - Hester Barnes

The characters, story, words and images shown here are the sole property of the creators and all rights are reserved. Please don't take our work without asking us - that would be a breach of copyright. If you'd like to use our work, or are interested in collaborating with us please email sian@siantphoto.com. Thank you!

The making of Lilith - Behind the scenes

Lilith in the studio

Before heading out to build our story in the woods, we shot a few portraits in the studio to capture how the character was developing. Initially Lilith was a more overtly horror film, creepy, dead girl - but with the wig we got a more doll-like, innocent look and we like that better for the story.

First headshot - beautifully showcasing Declan's makeup expertise!
Kat managing to really own both the creepy spooky and the fairy girl look!

Meet the team behind Lilith

Siân

Concept creator and story photographer

Photography can be a bit lonely at times! Lilith began in my head as a way to connect with other creative people and to make something spooky, beautiful and intelligent for Halloween - but inspiration struck somewhat late in the day and so we had to pull out all the stops to make it happen
Lilith's character aesthetic brings together some of my favourite themes; aspects of Japanese manga and animation, classic Victorian gothic, Tim Burton inspired melancholic humour and the misty beauty of autumnal trees.
With the team on board the idea really came together. It was important to me that everyone stretched their artistic muscles, with complete freedom to experiment.
I'm really proud of what we've created, but I'm sure that this is more the start of something than the final chapter.

Kat - Model

I have had a love for all things spooky and gothic since I was introduced to the works of Edgar Allen Poe back when I was fourteen years old. I often buy Halloween decorations as general homewares, and my horror film collection is forever growing!
So when Siân contacted me and told me the nature of this project, I had to be involved! I am so grateful to have been a part of this melting pot of creativity and hope everyone enjoys the character of Lilith and the wonderful story written around her.

Kat

Declan - Makeup Artist

When helping to create Lilith's look I took inspiration from Tim Burton and his work on The Corpse Bride, along with the work of Alex Box and her use of abstract act in makeup. I wanted to incorporate wool and string around the eyes to create a more doll-like look.

Declan

Declan Scammell is a freelance makeup artist based in West Sussex. He has been working in makeup for 6 years, specialising in editorial work, weddings and male grooming. Declan draws inspiration from the world around him and loves to take abstract approach using prosthetics and playing with textures.

Get in touch with Declan by emailing Declan@declanscammell.com

Hester - Behind the scenes photographer

"I wanted to get involved because Siân is doing creative things photography wise and when I saw she was looking for an assistant I thought I would learn a lot - so I jumped at the chance"

Hester

James - Author

James was born in Cambridge in 1982. He is a graduate of the University of Kent. He has lived in the Middle East and Japan and teaches English for a living. In 2014 he self-published his first novel, Preaching Blues about the life of Blues Musician Robert Johnson. He is fascinated with the supernatural and folklore of different cultures and catalogues them constantly. He has been writing in his spare time for a long time now. His most persistent themes are dissatisfaction, strife, alienation, and loss.

James
James and I have been friends for many years, and when the inspiration struck to add words to our story I knew he was the man. James' work features the kind of spooky but clever themes I wanted for Lilith, a whimsy but with a darker message - thanks James - you're a total star!

Siân

We hope you enjoyed this project - working with a great creative team is so rewarding! Follow us all for more exciting things in the future!

Created By
Sian Tyrrell
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