Mary McCartney’s body of work featuring photographs of members of the Royal Ballet corps off stage over a 3-month period contrast the dancers’ gruelling, painful lifestyle with the fairy tale performances.
Many of the black and white shots show unexpected contradictions: a muscular male ballet dancer having a cigarette between acts; naked ballerinas drinking coke in their dressing room at the Opera House; and a dancer eating a huge burger after a night of clubbing. The photographs avoid capturing the dancers on stage or in rehearsals, steering clear of such a well-documented subject. What has been captured is a slightly voyeuristic peek at what goes on when dancers are ‘off pointe’. Some myths are dispelled along the way and show us that dancers work hard but play hard too.
Daughter of Sir Paul and Linda McCartney, Mary McCartney’s love of photography was inspired during her childhood by her mother Linda who was also a very keen photographer. McCartney is a very successful fashion and portrait photographer; her first American solo exhibition at the Michael Goss Foundation in Dallas, Texas, featured a body of work entitled Playing Dress Up, and contained a collection of photographs that chronicle a unique view, both on the catwalk and backstage, of the rarefied world of high fashion.
McCartney’s work has appeared in editorial titles such as Harpers Bazaar and Interview Magazine, as well as high impact advertising campaigns for clients such as Gossard, Stella McCartney and Adidas. McCartney has also participated in various group exhibitions such as Strength and Beauty Embodied by Avant-Garde Women (2007), which exhibited at the Royal College of Art, London, and The Waterfront, New York. Having built up an extensive catalogue of portrait work, some of which was included in her exhibition British Style Observed at The National History Museum (2008), McCartney has a number of pictures in the National Portrait Gallery Collection (including the specially commissioned Gay Icons) and is currently working on a book with Thames and Hudson due to be released in September 2010.