The Freelands Foundation has selected Hepworth Wakefield as the fourth recipient of its $132,000 Freelands Award, which will support the presentation of a major exhibition of Belfast-born photographer Hannah Starkey in 2020. The survey will be the artist’s first solo exhibition to take place at a major institution. It will include a new body of work that will be centered on shifting female identities within communities that were once strongly defined by coal mining and industrial manufacturing.

“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,” said Simon Wallis, director of the Hepworth Wakefield. “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.”

Chaired by Elisabeth Murdoch, the prize was established in 2016 to help regional arts organizations organize large-scale exhibitions of midcareer female artists who may not have yet achieved widespread recognition. Commenting on this year’s awardee, Murdoch 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.”

The 2019 award jury comprised Murdoch; Jenni Lomax, curator and former director of Camden Arts Center; Martin Clark, the current director of Camden Arts Center; curator and writer Juliana Engberg; and artist Alison Wilding. Among the organizations shortlisted for the prize are John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; The MAC, Belfast; and Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne.

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