Updated: Friday, 29th May 2020 @ 6:20am

She's in control: Snapper proves she’s more than just Ian Curtis' daughter with striking photos around Manchester

She's in control: Snapper proves she’s more than just Ian Curtis' daughter with striking photos around Manchester

By Judith Hawkins

If you’ve caught the Metrolink from Piccadilly Station recently you may have seen some striking photographs lighting up the underground stop.

They are the work of Manchester photographer Natalie Curtis, who is not only famed for her striking photos but as the daughter of legendary Joy Division singer Ian Curtis.

Natalie wants to bring ‘a remembered dream of summer' to the autumn commute to cement her status as queen of the underground.

Sways Stills, a collection of black and white photographs documenting a night in the life of Salford-based Sways Records, are the current exhibits in the light boxes studding the backdrop of the Metro station. Natalie took the photos while staying in a Chorlton flat with friends from the independent record label.

In an interview with MM, Natalie said: “Because the light boxes are in a public place, and in particular somewhere that visitors to Manchester might see, it was important to me that I produced photos that relate to Greater Manchester.

“My starting point was to choose a subject that would give a sense of something that's happening here.

“I didn't want the images to be a literal take on events, as I'm interested in fictional versions of reality. Although I've worked a lot in colour recently, I went with black and white because, as well as thinking it would be more suited to the installation space, I wanted to create something more dream-like; a remembered dream of summer.”

The Sways Stills exhibition came about when Natalie was approached by creative events agency The Hamilton Project, who manage the light boxes on behalf of Transport for Greater Manchester.

“They’d seen my work and thought it was a good fit,” said Natalie.

She has a close relationship with Sways Records after working with Macclesfield rock band Marion during their brief reunion in 2011 and 2012.

“There was an album launch and exhibition at Kraak, and Sways were in attendance. They recruited me Mormon style and did in fact save me as prior to that I was seriously considering leaving Manchester.”

Despite these previous thoughts of leaving the city, Natalie remains inspired by Manchester and its inhabitants.

“It's a place that can be whatever you want it to be. It's open and closed,” she said.

While discussing her style Natalie reflects on the role of photographers. “On the one hand I like to document, yet at the same time I don't aim to provide a strict representation.

“I like to leave room for the viewer to imagine what may or may not have happened. But that's the nature of photography generally - it's a version of the truth.”

She shoots in film, and her camera of choice is a Nikon F100. By scanning the negatives and doing the darkroom stage on a computer, she blends old and new technology.

The 34-year-old photographer has been snapping since she was a kid. “I always took photos for fun growing up,” she told MM.

However it was her enrolment on an Art Foundation course at Macclesfield College that she really embraced the photographic medium, and subsequently studied at Manchester Metropolitan University’s School of Art for a BA in photography.

In 2009 Natalie was shortlisted at the Best of Manchester Awards for her intimate photos of bands such as Doves, the Paris Riots and Silversun Pickups, which were displayed at Urbis.

The Sways Stills exhibition continues her gaze into the private lives of those in the music industry, and will be displayed in Piccadilly Metrolink station’s light boxes until November 30. 

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