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2001-Oct-30: Mary's First Show

Sir Paul was on hand this evening for the launch of his daughter, Mary's photography exhibition at London's Hempel Hotel, where GBP 30,000 was raised for the Haven Trust,a charity that provides advice and assistance to cancer sufferers and their families.  Mary spoke in support of the organizations: "What I really like about the Haven Trust is that they encourage sufferers to take up free sessions of acupuncture or Reiki massage.  I found it quite complicated with Mum, balancing the medical side with a holistic approach.  I really wanted to help their cause, so I've overcome my natural instinct to stay out of the spotlight."

The photographic exhibition called Necklines was commissioned by Thomas Pink in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and featured a series of portraits by Mary McCartney Donald of the necklines of famous personalities including model Helena Christiansen, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Zoe Ball, Jodie Kidd, and Twiggy.

When asked if Mary would be the official photographer at his forthcoming wedding, Sir Paul replied: "It's much too soon to say anything about that. To be perfectly honest, I haven't really thought about it yet."  And how is Sir Paul following his automobile accident?  "It was actually weeks ago, and I'm fine now."  Sir Paul expressed his pride for his daughter saying, "This is the first time she's had a show to herself. I always knew Mary was a good photographer.  She's been at it for years. She started on her own and then had help from her mother, Linda."

In an earlier interview, Mary recalled that morning in April, 1998 when she took those last pictures of her mother in a field of daffodils.  Although Linda had only three weeks to live, neither woman had any inkling the end was so near as they talked and laughed together in the grounds of the family's estate in Peasmarsh, East Sussex.  Mary recalls:  "I just remember it being a fun, positive day. I was doing publicity shots for her new vegetarian
cookbook and Mum, who seemed to be in remission right until the end, was changing outfits and making suggestions. We were enjoying working together. Neither of us
placed the sort of interpretations on the shots that people would later make."  The pictures Mary shot that day were to become a final, moving testimony to her mother's life, capturing the quiet dignity with which Linda faced her battle against breast cancer.

In the interview, Mary also talked about taking the first official portrait of baby Leo Blair: "It was a great privilege to be asked but, also, to be invited into anyone's home so soon after a birth is really special. There was such a lovely atmosphere: everyone was sprinkled with baby magic and nobody had their guard up. I was really scared beforehand - I mean, this was Downing Street! - but Cherie and Tony made me feel totally welcome."  Mary claims that baby Leo is a "gentle little soul". He already seems like a very nice person. I'm convinced you can tell, even at an early age."

And what does Mary have to say about the encounter she had with the media at a film premiere in back in 1994, when she covered her head with her hands and asked, "Why are you taking pictures of me? I'm nobody."  She recalls:  "Oh my god! That was the premiere of Sirens and on the invitation it said, `Dress like a siren',so I wore a pair of thigh length leather boots and a leather mini, which really isn't how I normally dress. The paparazzi were pursuing me down the street and kept clicking, even when I jumped in a cab, and I was wailing, "Why do you want me? Nobody knows who I am. Hugh Grant's out there, take a picture of him!' "

Mary is still shy at making public appearances: "I've had to pick up a couple of awards for Mum, and each time Alistair (her husband) has been fantastic, coaching me on what to say and how to behave. But as soon as I get up on stage, my mind goes blank and I end up
just saying, 'Thank you' and bolting back to my seat again."

Mary had more memories to share about her mother: " She inspired me, but gave me
space to do my own thing.  A lot of people had preconceptions about her, that she was a pushy American and hard-nosed, but nothing could have been further from the truth. I wish everyone could have met her just once, to see what she was really like.  She was full of vitality and enthusiasm, and had a wonderful way of putting people at ease.  If there was an important meeting, she'd bake buns or take everyone on a tour of the garden to relax the mood.  Mum was so maternal and the complete nucleus of the family - it's been hard without her, but we're all close.  We stay in touch by telephone and meet up for birthdays and such like.  At least my mum was able to live a full life and see her children grow up. I like to imagine she's up there looking over us, making good things happen. But, try as I might, I'm not entirely sure that I believe it."

Of her father's engagement to Heather Mills, Mary said simply, "I'm really happy for them
both."

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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