Kirsty MacKay

lives an works in the United Kingdom

The Fish That Never Swam

I document stories that might not be told otherwise. I feel passionately about representing the lives of working class people with fairness, nuance and grace, which is at odds with the poverty porn I so often see.

My self-published book The Fish That Never Swam highlights the social, political, economic and structural forces, that influence our health, well-being and life expectancy. It shows the reality of life for people in Glasgow, living within an environment created by damaging political policies. Policies that left our bodies vulnerable. Where people die younger. I spent 4-years traveling across my home city researching, interviewing and photographing. The project connects my own experience growing up in the city, the loss of my father and three of my male friends, with the lived experience of the people I photographed. Male life expectancy in Possil is 66, in Penilee three young people took their own lives within the space of one week in June 2020, suicide in Glasgow is 30% higher than English cities, male life expectancy is 7 years short of the UK average and women’s is 4 years less. This is not isolated to areas of deprivation – Glaswegians across all social classes experience a 15% reduction in life expectancy. The causes for this life expectancy gap lie in political policy and not, as is often assumed, in the individual’s lifestyle choices.