Mary McCartney gifts photographs from her debut solo show to the V&A

Off Pointe reveals life behind the curtain at the Royal Ballet.

Mary McCartney has gifted a series of photographs from her debut solo show to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The photographer and vegetarian activist said the 14 prints, taken from Off Pointe – A Photographic Study of the Royal Ballet After Hours, contrasts the “gruelling” lifestyle of the ballet dancer with their “fairytale” performances.

Taken in 2004, they reveal the lives of the dancers at the Royal Opera House before, during and after an evening of performance.

Making Tea (Mary McCartney/PA)

A selection of these photos will be displayed in the V&A Photography Centre’s inaugural display, Collecting Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital, which opens on October 12 2018.

McCartney, the eldest child of Paul and Linda McCartney, was inspired to take the images following a night out in London’s Soho with Royal Ballet dancer, Sian Murphy.

Her series depicts intimate moments in the dancers’ lives as they smoke in between acts, drink Diet Coke and rest after an evening’s performance.

McCartney has previously said the series reveals “the highs and lows and the prestige and chaos behind the scenes”.

Murphy (Mary McCartney/PA)

Known for her intimate and observational portraits, McCartney began by making black and white prints with her Leica R7 camera in the 1990s before developing an interest in colour photography and digital.

She cites Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Jacques Henri Lartigue and her mother Linda as influences on her work.

She said: “I’m inspired to make photographs that have a candid, honest quality.

“Through Off Pointe, I wanted to document the hidden details of the ballet world and reveal the contrast between the sometimes gruelling, painful lifestyle of the dancers and their fairy-tale performances.

“I’m excited that the prints now belong in the V&A. I felt that the museum would really understand this personal project and offer them the perfect home.”

Lone Dancer (Mary McCartney/PA)

Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A, said: “Mary McCartney has a talent for taking candid photographs that celebrate the extraordinary in the everyday.

“She has a keen eye for detailed observation and a personal drive to capture otherwise unseen intimate moments.

“I’m delighted that we can show Mary’s fine prints alongside highlights from our historic and contemporary photography collections in our new Photography Centre.”

– Mary McCartney’s photographs go on display in the V&A’s Photography Centre from October 12.

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