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The Hepworth Wakefield and artist Hannah Starkey win £100,000 Freelands Award

04 Dec 2019

The Freelands Foundation has chosen The Hepworth Wakefield as the fourth recipient of the annual £100,000 Freelands Award. This significant award will support a major survey exhibition of Hannah Starkey (b. Belfast, 1971) in autumn 2020, which will include a major new body of work created with local Wakefield communities.

The Freelands Award was established in 2016 by Freelands Foundation, chaired by Elisabeth Murdoch, 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. The total value of the award is £100,000, including an artist fee of £25,000.

Starkey’s forthcoming exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, running from 23 October 2020 to 24 January 2021, will be her first ever major solo institutional exhibition, presenting a survey of Starkey’s art at a critical time in her career. In addition, Starkey will create a new body of work exploring the shifting female identities within communities that were once strongly defined by coal mining and industrial manufacturing.

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said:

‘We are delighted and honoured to have won the Freelands Award 2019 with photographer Hannah Starkey. Awards of this size are rare, and so important in such an uncertain and challenging financial climate. It will allow us to present the first major survey of work by Starkey and to engage our diverse audience with a significant new commission to be created in Wakefield. 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. 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.’

Elisabeth Murdoch, Founder and Chair of Freelands Foundation said:

‘The Foundation and I are very excited to work with The Hepworth Wakefield on this timely exhibition of Hannah Starkey’s work. 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 upcoming exhibition presents a fantastic opportunity for both local and international audiences to delve deep into her practice; and the new collaborative project will allow Hannah to create impactful new work that is inextricably tied to the local communities.’