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The Hepworth Wakefield acquires specially commissioned Wakefield photographs by Hannah Starkey through the Freelands Art Fund Acquisition

13 Sep 2023

The Hepworth Wakefield has been awarded a Freelands Art Fund Acquisition grant to acquire four Hannah Starkey works for Wakefield’s art collection: Kirkgate Towers (2022), Wakey Tavern (2022), Beauty Shop (2022) and Bus Stop (2022).

The four large-scale photographs were specially commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield for last year’s Hannah Starkey: In Real Life exhibition, supported by the Freelands Award.

For the commission, Starkey worked in collaboration with female students from Wakefield’s CAPA College to capture a series of photographs of them in the places they frequent, reflecting the lives of these young women in Wakefield.

The commission explores ideas of beauty, community and belonging. Starkey has collaborated with women throughout her career, including with the MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Yvette Cooper, in 2018; creating large-scale, carefully choreographed photographs that explore a deep interest in how women are represented in contemporary culture. Although Starkey’s photographs can appear at first glance to be traditional observational documentary, they are in fact meticulously created stilled moments that are both truthful and artfully constructed. The Wakefield commission captures the small gestures and glances of everyday experience, while subverting traditional notions of documentary and street photography.

Kirkgate Towers from the Wakefield commission will go back on display at The Hepworth Wakefield from Tuesday 19 September.

The partnership between Freelands Foundation and Art Fund offers grants of up to £50,000 for museums to acquire works by winners of the Freelands Award, increasing public access to contemporary work by women artists in the UK.

Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund, said: “Throughout her career, Hannah Starkey has been interrogating the relationship between women and their everyday surroundings through her photography. I’m delighted that Art Fund’s unique partnership with Freelands Foundation has enabled The Hepworth Wakefield to acquire four fantastic photographic works by Hannah Starkey as part of its collection, for the enjoyment of audiences in Wakefield and beyond. The Freelands Art Fund Acquisition provides a great opportunity to increase public access to works by leading women artists working in the UK today.”

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield, said: “We are delighted to have beenawarded this significant grant through the Freeland Art Fund Acquisition that has enabled us toacquire this special body of work for Wakefield. The photographs capture an important momentof social history, representing young people growing up in the north as the UK emerges from adevastating global pandemic. Shot in locations familiar to our audiences, Starkey’s Wakefieldcommission continues our ambition of connecting local people in meaningful ways withWakefield’s art collection, as well as to the internationally significant artists that we bring toYorkshire. We are so pleased to be able to add these photographs to Wakefield’s art collection,providing a permanent legacy for this exceptional project and are grateful to both the Art Fund and Freelands Foundation for their ongoing support of our work.”