Unique and Unseen Photographs of Kate Bush

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Kate BushPhotography by John Carder Bush

The iconic musician's ascent to stardom is captured in a candid new photobook by her brother, John Carder Bush

Ever since she released her celestial hit Wuthering Heights at the age of 19, musician Kate Bush has been swathed in mystery, and she wears it like a gossamer cape of complex and ethereal composition. To view her through the lens of her older brother, therefore, gives a rare and compelling insight, and one which, with the release of John Carder Bush’s new book Kate: Inside the Rainbow, will be available to all.

Carder Bush has been photographing his sister since she was just six years old, so his shots chart the rise of the star from her earliest beginnings. “Each of these images forms a golden thread that shoots through the visual tapestry of Kate’s remarkable career,” Carder Bush says, and we’d be inclined to agree. From album covers to candid images of her as a shy teenager, the book is an intimate visual biography of Cathy’s ascendance to Kate. Fascinated, we sat down with Bush to find out more.

On why he named the book Kate: Inside the Rainbow
“A rainbow is a wonderful natural phenomenon that we always see from the outside, but we can’t enter because it’s just light and an illusion. In a sense, you could say that the whole world of popular music and entertainment is exactly the same, that it’s all sparkling and that it’s an illusion. This idea was very much parallel to the time I’d spent working with my sister.” 

On Kate’s innate courage as an artist…
“You can see the strength of her face and the strength of her eyes, and I think that’s the determination not to go on the assembly line that existed for women pop stars in the late 70s. Kate was courageous because she didn’t want anything to do with that. She was very clear that she wanted the work to be about her music, not her looks.”

On the creativity of album covers…
The album and single covers were a clear attempt to project what Kate’s music was about. With albums there’s permanence – it’s like creating a painting, something people will treasure. I think the fact we worked from a home studio and could finish when we wanted, almost in a cottage industry, had huge advantages.” 

On the influence martial arts had on his photography…
Before writing the book, I hadn’t noticed the similarity between taking photographs and martial arts – especially kyudo, Japanese archery, which I’ve been practicing for 30 years now. You release an arrow in the same way you release a shutter, the arrow is called a shot, and the decision behind when to release an arrow or when to take a photograph is identical.”

On his favourite images in the book…
“My personal favourite is the Hounds of Love album cover, because as soon as I took it, I knew it had worked and I’d caught the big catch. Apart from that one, the black and white shots that I did for The Whole Story cover. But it’s strange, if I go through them now I think wow, that’s truly great! And I hadn’t really thought that at the time. When you get enough distance, you really see it for what it is.”

Kate: Inside the Rainbow by John Carder Bush is out now, published by Little Brown.