Monday, 30 March 2015

"My Favourite Colour Was Yellow"

“It was when I had enough pink clothes that I could do a whole pink wash [in the laundry], that it made me think there’s something really powerful happening here and I want to trace where it had come from.” 
Kirsty Mackay

"My family is exactly the same as all these families in the book. We're all navigating our way through this sea of pink."
Kirsty Mackay

"The title places an emphasis on a lack of choice, and that's really what's at the core of the book."
Kirsty Mackay

Kirsty Mackay is a British photographer who started the project "My Favourite Colour Was Yellow" after the first pink laundry load. She did not buy pink items for her daughter and nevertheless found "her life inundated by pink" after giving birth to her in 2006. First, she took pictures of her daughter, then of her daughter's friends and of people she met on the street. The title "My Favourite Colour Was Yellow" is a quote from one of the girls she had photographed. The girl told her that once she had been asked by a friend what her favourite colour was and that she lied because of the pressure to conform. So she said pink instead of yellow. In Mackay's photographs, pink is more than a colour, a symbol of what society expects of young females and what finally becomes "a fact of life". (via)

"Over the past 9 months I have been working on a series of photographs exploring the current prevalence of the colour pink. Girl's clothing, toys and accessories are produced predominantly in pink, to the extent that it can be difficult to find an alternative. As a parent of a young daughter I became aware of the vast amounts of pink products being marketed directly to girls. This was not the case when I was growing up. The 1970's were a much more gender neutral time. In comparison to the 2010's they now seem more progressive. This back step has urged me to to document the current situation."

Kirsty Mackay

Some excerpts from an interview:

What is your latest project My Favourite Colour Was Yellow about, and what inspired you to make such project?

My latest project (...) is about how the colour pink has become so dominant in young girls’ lives. The title refers to the lack of choice out there.
I started the work after my daughter was born. I was aware of all the pink stuff, didn’t particularly like it and so didn’t buy into it. It was when, despite this we were still inundated with pink things, that I realised how powerful this had become. I needed to trace where it had come from. My own experience of growing up in the 70’s was vastly different. There was no pink. I was dressed in dungarees and boiler suits, played with Mecanno and Lego. I was definitely allowed to make my own choices. (via)

Why do you think it is a bad thing that pink is so strongly associated with femininity?

I think many people will overlook this issue and see it as harmless. But what worries me is that girls are being dictated to, they are not free to make their own decisions. It has now become difficult to find alternatives to pink in the UK, as the market is so saturated with it. I am constantly reading how not enough girls are choosing science, there are not enough woman Members of Parliament and female CEOs – well it starts here, when girls are young. Pink places an emphasis on how girls look – this is out of date and not what many parents want. Ultimately the people that benefit from this are the retailers and manufacturers, who make profits, but don’t question the ethics. (via)

Was any of the girls you met particularly obsessed with the color pink?

All of the girls I photographed were just ordinary girls. I wouldn’t say any were obsessed with pink. Some of the girls loved pink, most of the girls would say it was their favourite colour and a few of them didn’t like it, mostly the older ones. Despite this there was still always enough pink things for me to make a picture. (via)

Please share with us a little bit about your creative process for My Favourite Colour Was Yellow.

One of the biggest challenges for me was to find a way of photographing such a sweet subject matter that was still going to be interesting. (...)
The other aspect I found difficult was how could I go into other people’s houses and photograph their children, when I might be disagreeing with their decisions. I think also being a parent and being faced with the same problems, helped here. When I realised that we were all in the same situation that made it easier for me. I had to be very sensitive to the girls’ own opinions. They were often very proud to show me their bedrooms and have their portrait taken. I had to respect that and tried to give them that space for them to come across in the picture.
I’d say the portraits of the girls are all about them, my opinions stayed out of those shots. Towards the end of the project I really felt like I wouldn’t be doing the book justice if it was just a document of this time, it needed my opinion in there too. And the book as a whole expresses my feelings about all of this. I added some more shots that I made with my daughter and my friends daughter, which reflected more of what I was trying to express. (via)

(Below:) "Some pictures you struggle with and eventually get the shot and then others are like a gift. This was one of those occasions when I was handed a gift. I had met these girls and their mum at my daughter’s school. They are twins, and I asked if I could come and photograph them. When I went to their house I saw the pink tv, pink piano, pink walls, bed, scooters everything. None of this had even been mentioned and this happened over and over in the project, when I was greeted by pink X-mas trees, play houses, carpets and walls – everything." (via)

photographs by Kirsty Mackay via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via