When Wendy Grew Up


Nearly four years ago, I created an image I called “Peter’s Epilogue” which, at least to me, depicted a grown up Peter Pan looking at dozens of red balloons drifting up into the sky, and two stars shining amongst them. The two stars represented the concept of Neverland (“second star to the right, and straight on till morning.”) and the balloons were a symbol of youth being let go - time to grow up - a prominent theme in Barrie’s play. For a long time, I used that image as my logo - it was fairly iconic and simple, which a good logo should be - but like most things, it got old and eventually I retired it. It was the first time I used the model with back to camera - something I have come to enjoy a lot and use often, as it allows the viewer to put any person in the scene they choose, or themselves for that matter. It also allows us to see what the character is seeing, and for me, a broader canvas to add story elements to. 

I decided to revisit this image, “Peter’s Epilogue,” and instead of updating it, which I may do someday, I thought it was time for Wendy Darling to have her own sequel image. What happened to Wendy, who, after all, was the real protagonist of the story - a girl on the brink of adulthood, already a mother in spirit to her siblings, and the Lost Boys in Neverland, but not wanting to grow up and become her father, who had no patience or affection for storytelling. I did not know this, but Barrie did revisit the Wendy character in a short play in 1908 called “When Wendy Grew Up - an Afterthought.” Apparently she had a daughter and Peter visited her as well and Wendy allowed Peter to take her daughter to Neverland - trusting that she would make the same decisions Wendy had years earlier. 

No balloons this time. She is no longer letting go of youth. She has already  - and now she is watching worlds drift by. Perhaps they are the worlds of possibilities, of lives she might have lived - perhaps they are the representations of choices she might have made. All seems well, all is calm, maybe she is a wife and mother now in a rural home, far from London, far from the loud, clanging cities teeming with people. Maybe she is content, and maybe she is a little bored of her insulated life. Maybe she is dreaming of another world, another place. Maybe the girl she was is still inside her, dreaming of far off adventures, dreaming of Neverland again. In the sky, there are those same two stars, but they are fainter now, distant, and seemingly unreachable. Wendy isn’t flying anymore, she is very much earthbound. Perhaps she never really could and it was all in her mind, along with the fantastic tales she once told her younger brothers. 

Maybe all we need is the ability to look up into the sky and see something in our imaginations, to still be able to see possibilities. In that respect, as a middle-aged man now, I can attest that I have never fully grown up, and there is still very much a boy inside me creating fantastical worlds. That is why I create what you see here, and why I intend to do so for as long as possible, as long as I see those stars in the sky leading back to Neverland. 

Michael Bilotta

June 8, 2016