The winner of the fourth edition of the annual Freelands Award has been announced as The Hepworth Wakefield. The Yorkshire-based institution will receive £100,000 – including a £25,000 artist fee – to produce the first ever institutional solo exhibition by London-based artist Hannah Starkey.
The show will feature a body of new work created in collaboration with a group of young women in Wakefield. Starkey will produce images with them that explore their experiences of the city and help them better understand the way in which photographic images are constructed.
Starkey is known for exploring the physical and psychological connections between the female individual and her everyday urban surroundings, creating photographs that initially appear to be in the vein of observational documentary, but are in fact deftly choreographed. Her recent work has included covering the Women’s March in London in 2017 as well as Extinction Rebellion events.
Simon Wallis, the director of Hepworth Wakefield, said the survey was long overdue: “Starkey’s emotionally evocative body of work created over the last twenty years, subtly explores how women are represented in contemporary culture and, more recently, their increasingly effective and powerful political activism that is fruitfully changing society and its entrenched attitudes.
“This long overdue survey of Starkey’s work builds on The Hepworth’s reputation for curating important exhibitions of photographs and extends our commitment to regularly showing work by major female artists.”
He added that the project comes at an “exciting moment when Starkey is reassessing her art in the light of recent political events, such as the MeToo movement, that have such a vital bearing on her new work.”
The selection panel for this year’s award included: Jenni Lomax, former Director of Camden Arts Centre; Alison Wilding, artist; Juliana Engberg, curator and writer; Martin Clark, Director, Camden Arts Centre; and Elisabeth Murdoch, Chair, Founder of Freelands Foundation.
Murdoch commented: “The judging panel concurred that the project presented by the museum and the artist tackles prescient and important current issues, such as education and youth identity. Starkey’s photography brings into focus the complex ways in which female representation and subjectivity play out in contemporary society.”
The Freelands Award was first established in 2016 by Freelands Foundation to enable a regional arts organisation to present a large-scale exhibition, including a significant new work, by a mid-career female artist who may not have yet received the acclaim or public recognition that her work deserves.
Hannah Starkey’s exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield runs from 23 October 2020 to 24 January 2021. www.freelandsfoundation.co.uk/award/2019
1. Hannah Starkey, Pussy power, Women’s March, London 2017. Courtesy: the artist
2. Simon Wallis, Melanie Cassoff and Hannah Starkey. Photo: Jeff Moore