Born in Glasgow, Kirsty Mackay studied photography before moving to New York and then London to work as a photographer’s assistant. She has assisted world class photographers – Nick Knight, Anton Corbijn, Herb Ritts and Albert Watson. As her focus changed to concentrate on her own work, she went on to study an MA in Documentary photography at the renowned school of photography in Newport, Wales. Her work has been exhibited in the UK and across Europe. Her first book My Favourite Colour Was Yellow, a project documenting the prevalence of the colour pink, amongst young girls in the UK is published in 2016.
I decided to make a series of portraits exploring the lives of people living in Knowle West, echoing the themes that informed Carolyn Hassan’s original residency, which explored people, place and identity. Each portrait is accompanied by a sound recording from an interview with each of the participants. I like how their voices draw us in closer to the lives of the people we are looking at.
The three participants are all women who have lived in Knowle West all their lives- Pat Filer, Denise Britt, and Lyn Capel. All strong and fascinating women who have been deeply involved in the community life of Knowle West. Their words are sometimes angry- spurred by repeated disappointment and injustice in a neighbourhood that has too often been side-lined. But their words also express their hope, warmth and pride for a place that, quite simply, is not like anywhere else.
“Over the years I’ve worked with KWMC in the background and helped them with lots of different projects. It’s taught me lots of different things. Things I never knew I could do. It’s taught me how I can go out and speak to anybody. It doesn’t make any different about who they are. It could be the Queen, it could be a Member of Parliament. I wouldn’t have thought for a million years that I’d ever be able to that because I was just a mum. I went to work, came home, did what I had to at home. And that was my life basically. Until I started to get involved in stuff in the community. It changes you I think. Yes it changes you.”
– Denise Britt, 2016