For the last four decades – and by complete accident – John Carder Bush, Kate Bush’s brother, has also been her official photographer. Kate: Inside The Rainbow, is a what-happened-next companion to 2014’s reprint of his acclaimed limited-edition volume Cathy, depicting Kate’s childhood.
“When I first started photographing Kate she was Cathy, my little eight-year-old sister,” says Bush. “Our mother was Irish, so we grew up with Irish stories. In my early twenties I started collecting English classics, turn-of-the-century illustrated children’s books. The photos I took of Cathy were my attempt to realise a kind of Celtic, Pre-Raphaelite imagery – and Cathy was an obliging model.”
As Cathy morphed into Kate, her brother found himself with the role of taking press and album photos at the family home in Welling, Kent, and at his flat in Brockley, south London.
“That was for convenience, and to save money,” he says. “And, of course, you always know where you can make a cup of tea.”
At 16, Kate was discovered by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, who approached the family to act as a mentor.
“What impressed me most about Dave was how grounded he was,” Bush remembers. “ He gave us invaluable advice without trying to be manipulative or controlling. An example of how successful the Floyd were in avoiding celebrity occurred when I went to see the first night of The Wall at Earls Court in 1980. I was chatting to Dave by a burger stand as people were going into the show, and nobody recognised him.”
Working alongside his wife and creative partner Vivienne, John Bush’s favourite shoot is the one for the Hounds Of Love album cover. “It was technically demanding and very intense,” he says. “We shared Kate’s feeling that what she was doing artistically was right, and had to be put out there, whether it was successful or not. With Hounds Of Love I felt confident that we’d created something to deliver on all levels.”
John Carder Bush: “I took this when Kate was about fourteen, during summer holidays on the Kent coast. You can see a piano in the background, and she’d been playing some of her songs to our father and myself and was listening to our reactions.”
“Here we are in my flat in Brockley, 1980. This was one of a number of experimental shots for the single cover of Babooshka. I had written on the bits of paper and scattered them on the floor. Kate’s idea of using the double bass instead of a human dance partner in the photos, and the subsequent video, was brilliant.”
“This was during the rehearsals for the Army Dreamers video, in the yard at our parents’ house. The plastic guns came from a toy shop, and I’d bought the uniforms from Camden. My son, Gavin, now a composer, photographer and filmmaker, is in the photo with Kate; he now has a son who is about the same age.”
“This is a shot from the Hounds Of Love cover session, 1985, at our parents’ house. I took the photos in the same room where I’d shot Kate in natural light with a half-frame economy camera when she was Cathy and only eight, but now I was using a Hasselblad and flash lights with make-up and hair specialists.”
“By 1986 Kate was directing her own videos as well as appearing in them. From the moment she had started to write this song to the completion of the video, the vision was totally hers. This is on one of the sets for the video of Hounds Of Love, which has a deliberate 1930s feel to it.”
“This was from a promotional session for Director’s Cut in 2011, taken in a temporary studio I’d set up in the front room at Kate’s house. I was using my son Gavin’s digital cameras, enjoying the liberation from analogue film. I love this shot because although Kate’s eyes are closed, it seems as though she is looking at us through the cat’s eyes.”
Kate: Inside The Rainbow is out now via Little, Brown.