When people think of the idea being a kid again, the thought of happiness, carefree adventures with friends, sunlight, and a sense of wonder about the world, usually pop up in people’s minds. Isabel Magowan takes that cheery image and makes it dark and unsettling, in her photography series, “Cygnets”. In this series, Isabel photographs kids from around the ages six to sixteen, and shows the dark nature of youth, family, and privilege.
Cygnets is named so, because of an encounter she had with an encounter with a bevy of giant swans at her grandmother’s house, aptly named, Swan House. While beautiful, the swans attacked her and her friend while they were swimming in a lake. A cygnet is the name for a baby swan, so the vicious underside of the elegant creatures inspired her to create an entire series of photographs that have that same sense of beauty, and hidden malice.
Most of these pictures focus purely on the young, there are few pictures with parents, tweaking, and adjusting the way their children look, simultaneously, giving them a loving touch and showing a form of control. This loving yet menacing feeling is the overall theme of her work. Beauty is nothing without pain, and youth is the same way. The indescribable feeling you get while looking at her work is what drives you to keep looking. More of her work can be found on her website, isabelmagowan.com.