MA Fashion Photography graduate Magda Kuca used her LCFMA18 project to decode Polish folk traditions and pagan culture rooted in her heritage. Growing up in the mountainous region of Skarzysko-Kamienna, Poland, Magda has always been mesmerised by 19th-century photography and the techniques that came with it. We dig deep into her story and collaborating with the British Museum ahead of next month’s exhibition at The Bargehouse, South Bank.
Tell us about your final project…
My final project is very much about decoding Polish folk traditions, exploring my roots and pagan traditions of the past that drew the connection between humans and nature. The motive throughout my work, especially in the last few years, has been exploring the topics above in a photographic sense. I’m using a 19th-century format for large photographs using an old technique. I use wet plate collodion which is very technical and craft-based and a result of it is a glass plate. All my images were originally physical objects. The glass plate is unqiue and the original folk garments used in the shoot were sourced from different Polish museums and small cultural centers.
What would be your top tips for new students…
Be sure you have some defined aims and try to fulfill them.
Do not let yourself get distracted too much.
London has so much to offer that you need to be selective and think how you spend your time here in the most efficient way there is because of how much is going on here. You often wish to take part in every event, party and exhibition possible, so spend your time and enthusiasm efficiently, while remaining open to new experiences.
What made you chose LCF and London…
All the international reputation was a starting point – I was already studying photography in Poland which was incredibly inspiring but I was looking for something radically different with new people and environment which could refresh my way of thinking. I carefully researched all of the courses across various countries and attended opened days and got to know the people behind it. I made a conscious decision supported by extensive research to do a masters in London. I also wanted to introduce my practice to a news context and I got very inspired by the LCF MA Exhibition when I came here the very first time. I chose to incorporate fashion elements into my photography and engage into different collaborations with other fashion creatives – LCF seemed like a good match for that.
What were the highlights and biggest challenges of your course…
I’ve come across so many ideas and thoughts that I didn’t know existed. I’ve learnt so much and experienced new techniques and people, which I believe has been a stimulant for my own work. In London you meet creatives to collaborate like no where else – creatives from fields like costume, stage design and hair styling to name a few. I would never have thought of collaborating with these kind of people before attending LCF. This has helped take my work in an entirely different direction, shaping my own view on the field of creative photography. But, at the same time allowing other creatives into my world has been a challenge. This did however give me lots of opportunities to collaborate on exhibitions or commissions for myself.
What song or album are you currently listening to?
I’m still in the work mood of my Masters and keep playing all the songs that kept me going during it. I’ve been listening to a Polish band called Ksiezyc (meaning ‘The Moon’), which draws upon Slavic folk music of the past.
Have you been in a work placement or internship…
I’ve worked on some commissions while studying my MA, mostly working over Alternative Photography. Thanks to UAL, I had the opportunity to work with the British Museum, sold a few pieces through MIAL and attended various workshops across different London galleries. I think there is no better place than London for individuals to develop their own practices or spend time in creative ways.
My biggest inspirations and muses are…
I found great inspiration in 19th-century masters of photography, such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Edward Steichen. I enjoyed going through the archives of early tribal imagery, but if talking about more contemporary ones, I’ve always had a thing for Paolo Roversi’s way of working.
What are your plans for life after your MA…
My plan is to continue working with alternative photography technologies, leading photographic workshops and set up my own studio. I am also thinking about engaging in work with art institutions and galleries, as I really enjoyed collaborating with the British Museum and UAL Student Union.
LCF is moving east. What do you think about the move…
Since moving to the UK I’ve come to understand that the east is the creative hub of London. Although I live in west London, I have ended up traveling to the east many times for exhibitions, events and inspiration. I’m hoping to get a studio there in the future, so I believe LCF is doing the right thing for their students.
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