The Hepworth Wakefield’s major exhibition this autumn/winter, Hannah Starkey: In Real Life, includes a specially commissioned new body of work taken in venues around Wakefield in 2022. Acclaimed photographer Starkey worked closely with female students from Wakefield’s CAPA College, which provides performing arts training for 16–19 year-olds, to capture a series of new photographs that reflect the lives of the young women in their city.
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 her deep interest in how women are represented in contemporary culture. In preparation for the exhibition, Starkey visited Wakefield many times over the last few years, working with women in the region to develop new directions in her photography and extend the collaborative approach she takes with the subjects in her work.
The CAPA College students were invited to the official opening of Hannah Starkey: In Real Life where they were thanked and praised by Starkey in her speech and got to see themselves on the gallery walls and in the accompanying book for the first time. Yvette Cooper MP was also present at the event and posed for photographs alongside the students.
One CAPA College student involved, said: "Working on this project was so rewarding. We collaborated with an amazing photographer, Hannah Starkey, in a supportive, empowering and welcoming environment. I loved working with Hannah! She has such a refreshing outlook on art, feminism and photography and she made us all so proud of our individuality."
Another one of the students, said: "It was such a privilege to be part of this project with Hannah Starkey. It was fascinating to see how she makes images come to life and learn about scenario, lighting, composition and colour. She taught me a different perspective on art and that photography is an illusion – each viewer creates a different story from what they perceive’"
Olivia Colling, Deputy Director of The Hepworth Wakefield, said: "Commissioning internationally respected artist, Hannah Starkey to work with young people in Wakefield on this new body of work is exemplary of our ambitious engagement programme that provides innovative and valued creative opportunities for young people in our District. We are really grateful to Starkey for being so generous with her time and sharing her creative process and of course to CAPA College for enabling this partnership. We loved the outcome of the Wakefield commission so much that we used one of the images on the cover of the book and to lead our marketing campaign which is seen across the country. It was very rewarding to see the young people respond so enthusiastically to the final images – I am sure this will be an experience they will remember for life."
Hannah Starkey: In Real Life is open at The Hepworth Wakefield until the 30 April 2023.
Exhibition entry is FREE for Wakefield District residents, members of The Hepworth Wakefield and under 18s. Tickets can be booked online at hepworthwakefield.org
Images: Anya Raczka