The Hepworth Wakefield named as Freelands award year 4 winner

Hannah Starkey, Untitled, May 1997
On 4 December, the Freelands Foundation announced that Yorkshire-based institution The Hepworth Wakefield would be the fourth recipient of the annual £100,000 award.


Established in 2016 and chaired by Elisabeth Murdoch, the award enables regional arts organisations to hold a large-scale exhibition of a mid-career female artist who may not have received the public recognition warranted by their work. The Freelands Foundation will be working with The Hepworth to present an exhibition dedicated to London-based photographic artist Hannah Starkey (b.1971, Belfast).


The Hepworth Wakefield Director Simon Wallis, Freelands Foundation Managing Director Melanie Cassoff, and artist Hannah Starkey. Image courtesy of Jeff Moore.


With works featured in the collections of the Tate London, the V&A, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, the Seattle Art Museum and the Minneapolis Walker Art Centre amongst others, Starkey explores the physical and psychological connections between the female individual and her everyday urban surroundings. Her photography moves beyond the production of images to interrogate women’s representation as something that enters into a more direct dialogue with the world itself, one in which women are agents as well as spectators. In line with political climate shifts, her recent work has covered topics including Extinction Rebellion and the Women’s March in London 2017. ­­She is represented by Maureen Paley in London and Tanyan Bonakdar in New York.


From 23 October 2020 to 24 January 2021, Starkey’s first ever institutional solo exhibition will present a survey of the artist’s previous work, as well as a significant body of new work. The new project will be created in collaboration with local teenage girls, exploring shifting female identities in communities once strongly defined by mining and industrial manufacturing, and providing them with the tools to critically examine contemporary visual culture in order to regain control over the photographic medium increasingly used to shape their own identities.


Delighted by the announcement, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield, Simon Wallis, commented, “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. This 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.”


In previous years, the Freelands Award has supported Jacqueline Donachie at the Fruitmarket Gallery; Liz Rhodes at Nottingham Contemporary; and Veronica Ryan at Spike Island.