M1:There were no reruns with this and this had to work. Everything was about getting this right. He was very worried about his legacy and the fact that he was able to, in his working practice which was kind of very secretive but he wanted to share that and he kind of entrusted me with the job of making the pictures. Now I end up with the situation that forever people are going to ask me about him and about his person and I don’t really know that much about it at all.
My photography kind of deals with the outside world and I guess issues, whether they’re personal or whether they are things that I feel very strongly about in the world that we live in now. A lot of artists are kind of like they have one thing and this is what they do and they spend their whole life dealing with this particular issue and this way of working, and I’m just like I’m interested in everything and that manifests itself in what is a kind of very erratic way of working, because I’m kind of a sole operator. I’ve never wanted to be one of these people who has a whole kind of factory type situation; I’m very much about doing what I can do in a day.
This book that’s just been published in Japan, Made Glorious Summer, is a book that recycles and deals with a lot of the kind of ephemera and things that I kept over the years, and I put the book together as a kind of – I don’t know – a kind of loss of innocence, a kind of moment of my youth really; it’s kind of great.
That’s outside South Africa House. So I was a precocious little kid with a camera, going to gigs and going on political marches and spending time in the school dark room.
One of my school books - I kept so much junk - I knew it would come in handy one day. You know, all artists have storage problems but I try and keep as much stuff as I can. I realised it was getting a bit crazy the other day when I was looking through my boxes and I found my plastic bag collection and I thought, why the fuck am I collecting plastic bags. If you make art, you know, you want to keep everything so you just have this never ending problem with storage.
Lee was really kind of interested in my first photo book, the Living Room book, so he liked my pictures and the way that I take pictures, and he liked the way that I worked. He was very, very insistent that it was this particular season and this collection, The Horn of Plenty, as this was his kind of retrospective season, so for someone to come along and say, I want you to photograph this for me, was an unusual thing for me because I’m only ever really generating my own projects about issues and concerns that I have myself.
Often when you’re making art you’re spending hours, weeks, days, preparing for that moment of creation that can sometimes be a second or a minute or five minutes, and what I saw with Lee was he would have these moments when everything would be prepared and his staff around him would kind of get everything ready, and the model would be there and they would be there and there would be the girl with the pins and the woman who would hand him the scissors, and then they’re bring in the rolls of cloth and then he’d be like [cutting sound], you know, like cutting and then pinning onto the girl and then he’d be like, oh, and sit down again and they’d all look at what he did in like two or three minutes, and those were the moments that I was kind of trying to capture in the photographs.
This box, that’s broken. I need to get another one now.
When I finished taking the McQueen pictures, as Lee didn’t know how to work InDesign I decided to kind of go back in time a bit and make a maquette-cum-scrapbook. He made the final edit so you could see the garments being produced, from the drawing stage through to the show.
This is for me is him. I was like, that’s you. He quite liked that so that went near the front of the book
I went to the landfill sites out on the A12, also in East London. I think it was important that they were in East London and I made these kind of very theoretical pictures of the waste ground on ten-eight. These are used throughout the book for a whole myriad of different reasons and I don’t think the book would be the same without it; it's what in many ways turns what could be a fashion-cum-documentary book into what then is a sequence of pictures which is a work of art of its own.
M2: There’s this one which I haven’t seen.
M1: That’s digital; that’s why you haven’t found it. That’s taken with a digital camera.
M2: You are funny.
M1: Oh, it’s good to see this big; wow. Yes, these two; wow, look at that. This is, yes, possibly my favourite one.
M2: Is this one okay?
M1: Yes, that’s fantastic, and then seeing them like this, it’s amazing.
When you’re working with this old analogue camera, that they have eight shots on the roll, I can shoot the eight shots in a matter of seconds so just constantly I’m running around, I’m looking for shots and moments. I’m constantly changing the cameras on this kind of constant cycle and one of the assistants was like, you must be careful, it’s very dangerous.
And I’m there thinking, well I’ve been to a few war zones; this is a fashion show.
I feel that I’m kind of looking after part of his legacy now with this work and that’s something that I never imagined would happen, which is a very strange situation for me to be in. It’s such a shame that he’s not there to see it but, at this point it’s four years since he died, it’ll be nearly five years, it’s a time to kind of celebrate him, not to be sad any more.