European Prospects
Exploring European Identity through Photography

Kirsty Mackay

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Kirsty Mackay

Kirsty Mackay

Biography

Kirsty Mackay (b.1970) is a documentary photographer living in Bristol. Originally from Glasgow she studied photography, at Glasgow College before leaving for New York and London, to work as a photographer’s assistant. Kirsty has worked with many world-class photographers including Herb Ritts, Nick Knight and Anton Corbijn. 

As Kirsty pursued her own work, she gained an MA in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport; the photography school founded by Magnum photographer David Hurn.

In 2003 partnering with Vodafone, she created an exhibition using the first camera-phone available in the UK. Taking a picture a day for one year, iCapture was shown at the Deluxe Gallery, London. She is passionate about smartphone photography and is an ardent user of Instagram

Kirsty is working on her first photo book, Generation Pink, which documents the bias for the colour pink amongst girls in the UK. She is also committed to a long term project, Pop Up Portrait Studio. A travelling, outdoor photo studio, that offers free portraits to passersby on the streets of the UK.

Portfolio Generation Pink

Generation Pink is a photo book documenting the ‘age of pink’ amongst girls in the UK. The work originated from a need to understand how such a rigid and out dated representation of femininity, can have taken such a strong hold on the young female generation. The work goes beneath the surface, of the rows of pink products for sale on the high street. Kirsty photographs the girls in the private world, of their bedroom and shows us just how deeply this fashion infiltrates their lives.
 

Portfolio Not Here Long

Not Here Long is a series of portraits, taken over a decade. They were conceived through the frustration of not having access to a studio. Streets, buildings, shop fronts, walls and doors are used as backdrops. Each sitter is directed, allowing Kirsty to work with natural light. Kirsty describes the process - “I think of the set up as I would a studio. I create a space for someone to be themselves. I spend a few minutes with each person taking three frames.” 

“There is an appreciation that I am capturing that person, as they are now; with the light that has travelled from the sun, reflected from each person, as they stand in front of me, their feet firmly planted on the face of the earth, through my camera, through me onto the permanency film.” 

The work is a celebration of the human being. It is unlike a photo booth image; as it takes another human being to see and bring out the qualities that make us human. “I look at people and want to record this moment in time; how gentle, intense, awkward, fragile, tender, lonely, beautiful or alive they seem to be - because we are not here long. 

Publications

Exhibitions: 

2005 MA Group show, Ffottogallery, Cardiff, Wales, UK
2004 iCapture solo exhibition, Deluxe gallery, London, UK
2003 Fuse solo exhibition, Centre Space Gallery, Bristol, UK
1999 The Association of Photographers Assistants awards, Velvia bursery Finalist and group exhibition, London, UK
1998 The Association of Photographers Assistants awards, Winner of best still life portfolio and group exhibition, London, UK

Additional information: 

Mackay regularly keeps a blog, which she uses as a digital sketchbook to update her activities and projects.