Linda’s Prints on display in V&A Museum’s new Photography Centre


A new centre dedicated to photography has opened to critical acclaim at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Thirteen of the sixty three Linda McCartney photographs donated by Paul and his family to the museum earlier this year, form part of the Centre’s major display Collecting Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital. The display explores photography’s development over three centuries, from the cameras used by Henry Fox Talbot to works by 20th century greats such as Alfred Stieglitz and Walker Evans. Contemporary artists such as Martin Parr, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Thomas Ruff are represented alongside pioneering female photographers Agnes Warburg, Cindy Sherman and Julian Margaret Cameron; the latter a photographer cited by Linda McCartney as an influence on her practice.

The Duchess of Cambridge officially opened the Photography Centre on Wednesday 10th October 2018, marking the doubling of the space dedicated to photography at the V&A, with the centre now spanning four galleries. A second phase of the Photography Centre is due to open in 2022 with ambitions to include a teaching and research space, a browsing library and a studio and darkroom for photographers’ residencies.

Linda’s thirteen photographs can be found mounted in a glass showcase; a case echoing the semi-circle shape of the original 19th century wall frescoes found throughout the Photography Centre. Featured in the display are five works from the 1960s, including an original contact sheet of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Linda’s chinagraph markings circling a picture of Jimi himself, and the first photograph Linda took of The Beatles during the launch of their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

The Beatles at Brian Epstein's House. London, 1967
The Beatles at Brian Epstein's House. London, 1967

Intimate and poignant portraits of Linda’s daughters Mary and Stella can also be viewed alongside four original Polaroids. This marks the first time original Polaroids taken by Linda have ever been shown and they highlight her eye for humour and the unusual that can be found in the everyday.

A key element of the Photography Centre is to demonstrate the variety of photographic printing and developing techniques available in their collection, with Linda’s work adding to this theme. Her ‘Sun Print’ cyanotype photograph of ‘Auntie Jin’ is featured in the showcase and demonstrates Linda’s interest in experimental photographic techniques and appreciation of photo history. It is complemented by Anna Atkins’ groundbreaking botanical cyanotype from 1854 found near the beginning of the exhibition and creates one of many interesting dialogues between Linda’s work and the other photographs on display.

One of the most significant dialogues is that between Linda’s photographs and the beautiful candid work of her daughter, Mary McCartney. Exhibited in the same showcase, Mary’s Off Pointe series of black and white photographs takes a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the Corps De Ballet. Mary’s images depict ballet dancers far from the seemingly polished world of The Royal Opera House and cement Mary’s talent for fervent photographic observation. Exhibiting Linda and Mary’s photographs side by side continues the narrative developed in their Mother Daughter exhibition and highlights both photographer’s ability to capture fleeting moments of intimacy and to evoke mystique in the ordinary and everyday.

The remaining fifty Linda McCartney prints that were gifted to the V&A can be viewed, upon request, from the V&A’s Prints and Drawings Study Room, where a curator will be on hand to talk about the works. You can also find entries for all the works on the museum’s collections website.

Entrance is free of charge and the Photography Centre is open seven days a week.