Born in London in 1969, Mary McCartney’s photographic work has focused on discovering those rare moments of unguarded, emotionally charged intimacy that offers us a new insight to the subject.
McCartney’s work has concentrated on the world of portrait and candid reportage photography and is suffused with a deep personal investment that captures the creative chemistry between Mary and her subjects.
McCartney’s responses to her wide variety of subjects are as spontaneous as they are studied, as shown by her first solo exhibition ‘Off Pointe – A Photographic Study of The Royal Ballet After Hours’ in October 2004. A series of powerful images that reveals the chaos of life behind the scenes of the elite Royal Ballet and the contrast between the sometimes grueling, painful lifestyle of the dancers and their fairy tale performances.
In ‘Playing Dress Up’ (Goss Michael Foundation, Dallas 2007), McCartney chronicled the rarefied and at times, both monotonous and madcap, world of high fashion, both on the catwalk and backstage with an unreserved collection of images.
McCartney’s talent for encapsulating the inspirations, histories and personalities of her subjects, such as Tracey Emin dressed as Frida Kahlo, is most evident in her previous exhibition ‘Developing’ (The Lowry, Manchester, 2013). Showcasing her distinctive style in portraying visually vulnerable, off-guard portraits that seem unlikely without McCartney’s affinity with her subject.
McCartney also has a number of photographs in several group commissions that were exhibited internationally including the National Portrait Gallery, London (Gay Icons, 2009) and The Waterfront, New York City (Strength and Beauty Embodied by Avant-Garde Women, 2007).
In 2013, Zeiss – the legendary lens manufacturer, commissioned McCartney to shoot their prestigious annual Zeiss Art Calendar. Entitled ‘Moments in the City’ and featuring Gemma Arterton and Alec Baldwin, the images were shot using black-and-white film in New York City and exude McCartney’s characteristic enigmatic and filmic quality.
November 2014 saw the opening of McCartney’s Monochrome & Colour exhibition in London, which demonstrated, for the first time, a more personal anthology. Taken without the agenda of a creative brief, the photographs illustrate the instinctive nature of McCartney’s photography and a desire to record the life around her. A book of two parts, published by GOST, accompanies the exhibition.
McCartney also has an ongoing project, entitled #Someone, which has seen her utilizing the digital medium of Instagram to capture spontaneous and personal portraits of people that catch her eye, in McCartney’s distinctive and unguarded style.