Frozen moments: Mary McCartney brings photographic exhibition to Lowry
She brings a selection of her work, taken over more than 15 years in the industry, to The Lowry this weekend in Developing: Photographs by Mary McCartney
Since she was a small girl, Mary McCartney – the eldest daughter of Paul and Linda McCartney – has seen the world as a series of still images.
“In every day life, I like observing things and if I see something happen I’ll imagine it as a photograph, as a frozen moment,” she says.
“If you see someone that’s dressed interestingly, or you see a moment happening between two people in the street, I’ve always imagined in my head how I would compose that as a photograph. Growing up around photography, obviously with my mum but also having been shown good photography, I also imagine it as a picture on a wall.
“I like watching people and I’ve never really been drawn to landscape photography because I think it would be really difficult to capture it more beautifully than you’d see it with the human eye.
“That challenge of capturing a moment that I’ve set up to a degree but then have to wait for that final expression or special moment that tells you something more, that’s what keeps me as interested as when I started; that challenge never goes away.”
She brings a selection of her work, taken over more than 15 years in the industry, to The Lowry this weekend in Developing: Photographs by Mary McCartney.
The pictures are testament to how Mary’s upbringing has influenced her work – “It has been an advantage in the sense that people know I’m not going to exploit them or take an embarrassing photograph,” she says – and the very special relationship she had with her mother.
The most intimate picture in the show, Mary says, is of her mother and younger sister Stella sitting on a bed. And it’s there for a reason; there’s nothing more affirming than seeing an audience respond to work, she says, and it’s satisfying to share those tender moments.
Rather than being a straight retrospective, Developing should show how her portraiture has evolved and what she has achieved so far. “Part of the reason I love to take pictures is it’s a bit of a diary of what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been,” Mary explains.
“Editing the photos brings back fond memories, sometimes of challenging shoots, but they’re all good memories.”
But there was also a third influence – the advent of Greater Manchester’s Radical Women Month, which made her pull out shots of the most formidable females she has in her portfolio: designer Vivienne Westwood, actress Helen Mirren, musicians Debbie Harry and PJ Harvey, the dancers at the The Royal Ballet.
A few of them are dressed as other equally powerful women. Artist Tracey Emin poses as Mexican feminist painter Frida Kahlo; Gwyneth Paltrow becomes Madonna; a nude Beth Ditto, from American band Gossip, kneels in a sheet and Bridget Bardot wig.
“That wasn’t done intentionally, each shoot was done quite separate from the other, but it’s nice when it pieces itself together like that,” Mary laughs.
“You take a picture and think they’re one thing. Now I look back at them and realise they’re pictures of radical women, but at the time they are just spontaneous ideas.”
Opens tomorrow at The Lowry, Salford Quays, until June 9. Free.