Wabi-Sabi

We Interview British Artist Felicity McCabe and explore her unique aesthetic

Felicity McCabe is a London based artist and photographer who has recently been shortlisted for the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards. Her extensive client list has included?The New York Times, Guardian Weekend, The FT, Apple, Volkswagen and Save the Children. We sat down to ask Felicity some questions about her work, what drives her and her plans for the future.

Solongo, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Who is Felicity McCabe and how and when did you start your venture into photography?

I?m a London based artist who works predominately with photography and sometimes with moving image. ? I started off wanting to be a painter but the photographs that I was taking for reference always turned out to be more interesting than my paintings. ?I also used to photograph a lot around the club scene in the UK in the late 90s and people seemed to like my pictures so it sort of went from there.

How would you describe your aesthetic, were you inspired by any photographers / artists?

My aesthetic is probably best described as ?constructed?. ?I like to make work that looks like I imagined it from scratch, whether that?s making a set and controlling the lighting in my studio, or if I?m working outdoors I?m usually looking for ways to make the situation ?studio-like?, such as paring back the information in the composition, using different techniques to help it feel clean and graphic, and then adding my own lighting in there, generally looking for ways to make the situation feel like I had a hand in it.

I get a lot of inspiration from paintings, films, literature – sometimes just one word will spark off an idea for me.

Monstera deliciosa #1
Birmingham, July 1982 (from the series “Relic”)

What was your most memorable project / shoot so far and why?

My most memorable project so far has probably been the time I spent in Somaliland in east Africa making a series of work for Save the Children and Action/2015 to highlight the terrible effects that climate change is already having on the people in that region. ?They?ve been in drought for a few years now which has caused major displacement for the people who would traditionally have lived off the land and their livestock. ?They?re effectively refugees in their own country now as they travel by foot for days on end to search for water, often losing the majority of their herds to dehydration which in turn means a loss of food source and also their livelihood.

It really was a once in a lifetime experience to stay out in the villages with the amazingly strong and fascinating people there under the brightest stars I?ve ever seen. ?The project is on my website if you want to take a look, it?s called Dryland.

Aasha stood on plastic chair, Bodale, Somaliland (from the series “Dryland”)
Jimale’s knees, Gargara, Somaliland (from the series “Dryland”)

What advice would you offer to any budding and aspiring visual artists looking to break into the industry?

My best advice for young photographers is to try and work as an assistant to some of the photographers that you really admire. ?Try and see how they approach each project or commission, and see what you can learn from them. ?I assisted some really inspiring photographers on both a freelance basis and also as a full time 1st Assistant, which was invaluable.

Are you working on any upcoming projects at the moment, what can we expect from you in the future?

Yes, I?ve always got a few things ticking over at any one time. ?One project will launch next year and is quite exciting as it involves travelling and meeting some really interesting people. ?It?s a mix of portraiture and still life again, similar to my Dryland style of working.??And to counter balance that i?ve got a couple of studio based projects on the go that roll along in between my commissioned work, one of which will be exhibited in east London around early September I think – I?ll keep you posted! 🙂

Jeremy Corbyn
London, April 2017 (from the series “Relic”)
Young Fathers
Julius’ right arm
Maxine Peake

You can follow more of Felicity?s work on her Instagram @felicitymccabe?and website?www.felicitymccabe.com

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