Deirdre Kelly

Mary McCartney — From Where I Stand (mini review)

Lighting Up



Yes, that McCartney — as in first born child of Beatle Paul whose late mother Linda was a photographer who influenced Mary to pick up a camera in the first place. And she’s good, very good, actually, as demonstrated by her first book of images collected backstage at sister Stella’s fashions shows and at the family farm in Scotland. There are others, of famous family members and their equally famous friends: Chrissie Hynde, Helen Mirren, Dennis Hopper, Sir Peter Blake, among them.  But the more interesting are those taken in the cramped and cluttered dressing rooms at the Royal Opera House. Operating like a modern-day Degas, McCartney focuses her lens on members of the corps de ballets, that anonymous rank of classically-trained dancers, and reveals the grit, the grind, even the boredom of backstage life. Her sharply edited collection of black and white and colour photographs also includes rockers, fashion models, and assorted Diane Arbus-like unknowns on the streets of London. Each is riveting, exhibiting compositional complexity as well as sensuality anda  sly sense of humour. Shots of celebrities like Joni Mitchell, Madonna, and a particularly compelling one of Bjork are interspersed with homey images of brother James amid the roses and children showering or jumping in the pool at Long Island. Then , of course there’s dad: but depicted as a creature of benign domesticity, and not as the famous rock star he is. McCartney’s title for her book underscores what’s most compelling about it: its intimate point of view. She has a unique take on the rarefied worlds of art and fashion and pop culture in which she inhabits. A book to savour.  (Abrams, 192 pages)

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