Joss McKinley

I am comfortable with death in a way that isn’t very common in contemporary times,” says photographer Joss McKinley

Indeed, there’s something of the Victorian age about his work. He would seem to be happiest either in the pitch dark, or contemplating the mortality of things.

“My parents’ interests and their collection of curiosities – Hogarth etchings, cursed skulls, fencing squirrels and Elvis wax heads, to name but a few – have influenced my mind and work,” he says. “I think this became most evident once I’d begun to collect the deceased wasps for the first still life of my Abject Window series. This was something I found to be quite natural and I didn’t think anything unusual of it.”

McKinley graduated the LCC’s MA Photography course two years ago and has his first solo show opening this month: the work included in The Moonlight Rooms and Other Works (at Exhibit in east London) continues his preoccupation with the deceased. Accordingly, alongside the Moonlight Rooms series of images (taken in the nocturnal rooms in a zoo, one shown, top right) McKinley is also showing the fruits of some work completed with his father, a taxidermist, and jeweller Hannah Martin in the shape of a series of be-jewelled birds (the crow with a gold bill is a particularly fine piece).

In addition to still life, McKinley is now working more on portraiture and, to date, has been commissioned by The Telegraph (Jacqueline Rabun shown, above) Wallpaper* and Vogue. This work is, he says, much informed by his previous e≠orts. “The new solo show is pushing me to continue and to complete my new portrait project,” he says. Its theme? “They’re isolated portraits of the deceased.”


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