Every year for the past 18 years English photographer Johnnie Shand Kydd has photographed the art scene as they holiday on the Greek island of Hydra each summer, photographing artists, curators and writers who have been invited to vacation at the British art collector Pauline Karpidas’ holiday home on the Greek island of Hydra. The shots capture several of the YBA crowd such as Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, and 2003 Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry, as they swim in the Mediterranean and frequent the island’s bars.
Shand Kydd told the Independent “What’s so special about the island is that it had a preservation order slapped on it in the 1960s, so there’s been little development since,” explains Kydd. “It’s only an hour from Athens, but it’s a gem of an untouched place. There are no cars and you have to travel around by donkey or water taxi. It’s amazing.”
The London-based photographer continued to explain his fascinating portfolio of YBA shots, “In the early days it tended to be full of young artists who probably couldn’t afford a holiday.” He added “Great friendships and working relationships have been forged there. I think what’s quite nice about the island is the lack of hierarchy that you would usually get in the art world in New York or London. As soon as you put people in swimming trunks, things become much more democratic.”
As a participant rather than solely an observer, the photographer captured the community of the Young British Artists before they became household names. Shand Kydd served as the chronicler of the movement by capturing Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, on film in the early days of the YBAs. The resulting work was soon collected into the book titled Spit Fire. The collection was featured in the Sensation show at the Royal Academy in 1997. From this portfolio the National Portrait Gallery acquired 42 prints.
The exhibition of holiday photographs runs to February 2016 at the University of Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery