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"Getting to know Dad" - Natalie Curtis (Ian's Daughter)

topic posted Fri, July 15, 2005 - 6:10 PM by  Confetta
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Published: 21st December 2004


Getting to know Dad


www.macclesfield-express.co.uk/ne...tml


THE daughter of Ian Curtis, the Joy Division singer who committed suicide almost 25 years ago, has revealed how images and record sleeves of her father inspired her to become a photographer.

Natalie Curtis was just a one-year-old baby when her father hanged himself at home in Macclesfield. Being so young, she has no direct memories of him.

But she became fascinated with photographs of her dad as she grew older. Images published in 1980s’ weekly music papers, Joy Division record sleeves and other items from the era fired her interest in music, art and design.

Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis took his own life in 1980. He grew up in Macclesfield, attended King’s School and was married in the town, before joining Joy Division.

He was hugely admired by Tony Wilson, the Factory Records boss and Granada TV presenter, who became Joy Division’s number-one champion. The band released two critically acclaimed LPs and four singles, and were on the cusp of major success.

But Ian Curtis suffered from depression and epilepsy, and killed himself just before his 24th birthday and Joy Division’s American tour. His funeral was at Macclesfield Crematorium, where a memorial stone was laid.

Joy Division later reformed as New Order and had massive success. But Ian Curtis remains a key figure in rock music history.

Natalie Curtis grew up with her mother, Deborah, and started taking photographs aged four with her grandma’s camera. But she gradually became intrigued with widely-publicised photographs of her dad.

Now 25, she recalls: "Photographs of Joy Division probably had more effect on me than anything else, especially those by Kevin Cummins and Anton Corbijn.

"Kevin’s pictures were really beautiful. He took some early shots of Joy Division rehearsing. And Anton Corbijn photographed them in a tube station around the same time. Quite a few people photographed Joy Division, but these photographs really stick in my memory."

Kevin Cummins’ work regularly appeared in NME during the 1970s and Eighties, while Anton Corbijn’s other work included early record sleeves for U2.

Natalie added: "Joy Division sleeves were really cool. One of the best things about Factory Records was its aesthetic design."

After Henbury High School, she studied at Macclesfield College and in Manchester, and is now developing her photographic career.

A private, modest person, she does not exploit her connection to Ian Curtis. She says she is simply known as ‘Nat the photographer’ to many people.

But she added: "Macclesfield people are more aware that I’m Ian Curtis’s daughter. I was born in Macclesfield and lived there all my life. I grew up with all the publicity surrounding my dad and didn’t really know anything different. That had its ups-and-downs, but I suppose I’ve become used to it."

"I’m really proud of Joy Division’s music. I think it’s great stuff. And it’s lovely that people are still listening to it. I like lots of Joy Division records myself, especially Closer."

"I also like dance stuff and country music, like Johnny Cash. But I’m not musical. I tried playing piano as a kid but didn’t make grade-one. I’m really bad," she quipped.

Natalie currently lives in Manchester but retains strong Macclesfield links, through close friends and photographic projects.

"I love Macclesfield buildings and streets, and the green hills above it.

"I also love places like the 108 steps between the town hall and the railway station.

~Robbie MacDonald
First published by the Macclesfield Express
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