Kerry J Dean

Kerry Dean lives and works in London. She started her career as a landscape photographer, which is still visible in her fashion photography. On a trip to Mongolia she noticed a small girl in the desert, who was wearing a pair of huge pom poms in her hair. Instantly fascinated, Kerry looked for more pom pom girls and photographed them in the barren landscape. The British photographer has captured their quiet beauty and dignity, as well as the juxtaposition of tradition and Western influence in her impressive images.

  • Degree:  London College of Printing / University of the Arts

Exhibitions

“Local Wisdom | The Craft of Use” (Group), London College of Fashion, London 2014
“The Making of Making – 1948” (Solo), London Store, London
“Think Again – Mother” (Solo), London 2012
“Mongolia”, TheFrontViewGallery (Solo), Whitstable 2011
“The emptiness of a land with no fences” (Solo), The Muse Gallery, London 2006

“They watched me attentively as I slept, ate, worked and even when I moved around half naked. In the end, being surrounded by pom pom girls who were observing me felt completely normal.“

In your work there always seem to be some kind of beauty in the loneliness and quiet of a landscape. Is this something you’re interested in?
I started out as a landscape photographer, which has always been a thread through my work, even when I’m shooting fashion, I’m drawn towards landscapes. My first solo show “The emptiness of a country with no fences” certainly could be perceived of having elements of “loneliness.”

You’re based in London and shoot a lot of fashion editorials. How did you end up shooting the pom pom girls in the Gobi Desert?
I first noticed one of the girls walking from school, through a village in the Gobi Desert, It was the girl in the series wearing the biggest pom poms.
There was something so incongruous and wonderful seeing such decorations, in such a remote landscape. I became obsessed with finding other “pom pom girls” to photograph.A lot of the girls had some kind of tracksuit top, worn over their uniform. I loved shooting them in this empty landscape. Traditional almost old-fashioned, and at the same time very apparently influenced by the modern western world.

Did you work with a translator or was non-verbal communication enough?
I did work with a translator/fixer. It was crucial for the project. Once I’d chosen my subjects there wasn’t a huge amount of translating necessary. That’s what I love about photography; it’s the communication that happens, not through direct language, but something else, a different way of understanding or observing each other.I wanted to capture the girls as they were. Of course, there’s an element of them responding to my presence, but in a way, I didn’t want to alter the way they held themselves. They were all quite “sure” of the poses they adopted.

Who is your favorite girl and why?
That’s really hard to answer because they were all so individually beautiful and bizarre. If I had to choose my favorite, I’d say Nandinchimeg Tserenbat, the girl holding the yellow plastic bag. She is eight years old. Her parents are herders. The granny-like pose and the shape of her hands made me absolutely fall in love with her.The village where we stayed and shot rarely has European visitors, which meant streams of school girls would appear inside my yurt, multiplying daily. Depending on how brave they felt, they would dare each other to run in and just stand in the yurt staring and laughing. They watched me attentively as I slept, ate, worked and even when I moved around half naked. In the end, being surrounded by pom pom girls who were observing me felt completely normal.

Author: Nella Beljan

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