Humble, talented, elegant and ethereal, Mary Ballantyne is the model and artist who looks like a goddess and is named after a fairy.
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Mary Ballantyne’s face is haunting, like a princess from a time forgotten. Her deep set, sapphire blue eyes are entirely unforgettable. Discovered at the age of thirteen, whilst dancing around a vintage store with her friends, Mary was initially unsure if modelling was the right path for her. Approached by numerous scouts, Select were the agency she decided to trust with her future. Photographed by powerhouse creative Rankin on her first ever shoot and then Ellen Von Unwerth, this Somerset country girl captivates those she works with instantly and kills it with every still. As dreamy to chat with as she is to gaze at, Mary is also an accomplished artist and musician. i-D online caught up with the bleached blonde babe to find out how someone so smoking hot lives their life.
What are you wearing? I am wearing a Vintage t-shirt from a racer Japanese Manga comic. The character is called ‘MachGogogo.’ I originally bought it as he has ‘M’ on his helmet and I’m Mary. My boots are from Bertie, vintage cut off Versace shorts, tights, coat from Manoush, Scottish scarf, gold sleeper earrings with silver heart pendant on right ear and pearl on left ear and silver rings-Cornwall cat, an eagle ring.
What was the last track you listened to on Your iPod? Three little birds by Bob Marley.
What posters are on your bedroom wall? I have one poster of an American Indian tribes map. One wall is filled with photos I like, childhood photos, photos of friends and photos I find inspiring, then my drawings and my artwork around the place. I have some vintage Glastonbury festival posters and newspaper articles, such as the peculiar bunny formation that appeared in the sky by starlings in Ham nature reservoir.
How did you first get discovered? I first got scouted when I was 13, it was whilst I was shopping in a vintage store trying scarves and hats and dancing with them like I used to do in ballet, at the time I thought modelling was glamour and glitz. I got scouted a few times since then and it was after my A-levels and people advising me, I thought the time was right to start and I love many aspects of it.
How do you feel when you see pictures of yourself? I feel grateful that they chose me for the shoot, and it’s always interesting to see which photos the photographer chooses.
When did you first learn to play a musical instrument? I first learnt violin, then recorder, then piano, then guitar, I was in the choir from a young age too. I love to sing. I love orchestra ensembles like Holst and Beethoven’s lord of the rings symphonies! Electric violins sound amazing though and I must admit I love to listen to Classic FM, there’s something about the music, it conveys many emotions.
Who are your favourite musicians? I would say Jimi Hendrix as he was so skilled at playing the guitar, I admire many musicians for their musical talents as well as their song writing. Led Zeppelin, Elvis, Stevie Wonder – the list is endless.
Do you prefer happy or sad music? Definitely happy music, it’s good for the soul and keeping motivated but I think some of the best songs are written about sadness.
Tell me about artists which inspire you? I recently went to the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition and I saw one of my favourite paintings, Ophelia by John Everett Millais, it is painted so realistically. Rosetti’s work I love too, I am constantly studying and admiring what artists are doing.
What single piece of art would you like to experience in person one day and why? A painting by John William Waterhouse ‘Lady of the Shalott’. A replica was up on our wall at home as a child and it was based on Somerset, where I grew up, I saw it at the Tate modern. I would love to visit the Rosslyn chapel too as it’s the most mysterious place in Scotland and the Sistine chapel as Botticelli and Michelangelo paintings are there.
Who would you like to take your picture one day? I admire many photographers, I am thankful to have worked with Ellen Von Unwerth, as my first shoot with my agency, and Rankin! Steven Meisel, David Bailey, Mario Testino – they would be on my ‘dream list’ along with many others….
Text: Milly McMahon