Through Linda’s lens, a newMcCartneyalbum
An idea by a Jewish gallery-owner has led to intimate McCartney family photos going on show in London. DanaGloger finds out more
IF SIR PAUL McCartney i s f e e l i ng t he a f t e r - e f - fects of his £24 million di v or c e from Heather M i l l s , a J e w i s h g a l - lery-owner has just the tonic the former Beatle needs. James Hyman, who runs a gallery in Central London, is mounting a display of photographs taken by his first wife Linda.
Linda, who was married to McCartney for 29 years until she died of breast cancer in 1998, and was the daughter of American-Jewish parents, was an acclaimed photographer who worked for music magazine Rolling Stone, taking pictures of celebrities, particularly in the rock world, of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. She also took thousands of pictures of the couple’s home life, a selection of which will be on show at Hyman’s gallery. In poignant contrast to McCartney’s recent marital difficulties, they reveal a period when he seems completely content.
Hyman approached McCartney three years ago with idea for the exhibition.
He recalls: “I met Sir Paul and made the suggestion and he was very enthusiastic. At the gallery we are keen on showing the work of important artists who have often been neglected. Everyone knows Linda’s name, but her photos have not been exhibited for a long time. The fact that we are an art gallery was important to Sir Paul, as it means we can show Linda as an artist.”
McCartney agrees: “An exhibition presenting the range of Linda’s photographic work is long overdue, so I’m obviously pleased that this show is happening.
“ J a me s H y ma n , my daughter Mary, and I have worked on it now for three years, and the result is a sensitive selection of works that really demonstrates Linda’s creative output as a photographer.
“ T h e p h o t o - graphs not only illustrate her in- credible talent as an artist, but as someone who was very much connected to the culture of the times, and wasn’t afraid to challenge herself, or her subject.”
McCartney has been involved in every stage of the exhibition, according to Hyman, even during his high-profile divorce.
“Although he has had a lot going on in his life recently, he has been extremely hands-on, as has his daughter Mary, who is also a photographer. We worked on selecting the 28 pictures for the exhibition together, and Sir Paul has overseen the whole thing. It’s been very important for the whole family, and is very special to him.”
Hyman, a 40-year-old married father of three who lives in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, and a t t e nds Norris Lea synagogue, r e - veals that the proc- ess of organising the exhibition brought back vivid memories for the ex-Beatle.
“He was looking back on a relationship of about 30 years. I think the photos reminded him of family holidays and of when his children were younger. He spoke about memories he had of Linda while we were working on choosing the pictures,” he says.
The exhibition will open just seven days after the 10th anniversary of Linda death. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and died on April 17 1998, aged 56.
“It wasn’t planned that the exhibition would coincide with the anniversary, but I think it adds a different dimension,” says Hyman, who has curated exhibitions at the Israel Museum and the Ben Uri Gallery.
The pictures selected f or t he exhibition show the range of Linda’s work, and include pictures of family life, landscapes, animals as well as musicians, including her husband, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin and others.
Although she started o u t p h o t o g r a p h i n g musicians, Hyman says that when she and Mc-
Cartney married and had children — one of whom is fashion designer Stella McCartney — she began taking more domestic pictures.
One of the pictures shows Sir Paul in his dressing gown with his son James jumping off a car bonnet, just one of many of the others also show intimate family moments.
“Sir Paul told me that Linda often carried her camera around with her, and would take pictures spontaneously,” Hyman explains.
“Her pictures weren’t staged, they were intimate and there was an informality about her work. And Sir Paul said the family were all very relaxed with her taking photos because they trusted her.”
So what was it like working with one of the most famous people in the world?
“It was very exciting,” Hyman says. “He has a gift for being quite informal and putting people at ease. I enjoyed working him.
“With such people you also wonder how involved they will get in the project, and it really impressed me how involved he has been. It’s obviously something that’s very close to his heart.”
He adds that he and McCartney did not disagree on any of the pictures which should be selected. “He knows the work much better than me, after all,” he says.
The photos range from the late 1960s to a self-portrait taken a few months before Linda McCartney died. “That is a particularly sad photo, as it’s towards the end of her life. It’s a very moving picture.” The exhibition will shown at the James Hyman Gallery, 5 Savile Row, London, W1 from April 25 to July 19. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.jameshymangallery. com
Sir Paul McCartney with his children Stella and James, captured by Linda McCartney, at the family farm in Scotland in 1982. The image will be displayed at James Hyman’s gallery
Sir Paul McCartney with his former wife, Linda
Curator: James Hyman
McCartney ( left) during a moment of reflection in Venice in 1976 andMick Jagger ( above) in New York in 1966. Linda took photos of many rock stars of the time, including Jim Morrison and John Lennon