MANIFESTO

#63

CHANGE OF SPACE

The joy of photography

2024.07.11

Photographed over the span of thirteen years, Jamie Hawkesworth’s series The British Isles documents the entirety of the places, architecture, and inhabitants of his homeland.

Jamie Hawkesworth: The British Isles
Huxley-Parlour, London
July 11th, 2024 – August 10th, 2024

 

 

Huxley-Parlour announces the opening of The British Isles, a new solo exhibition by London-based photographer Jamie Hawkesworth. This exhibition will be the first public presentation of a thirteen-year-long project by Hawkesworth aimed at documenting the landscape, architecture, and inhabitants of his homeland. A true celebration of people and places, the project offers an alternative history of Great Britain from 2007 to 2020, a period rich with events marked by elections, referenda, conflicts, and a pandemic reinterpreted through the language of everyday life. Schoolchildren, desolate beaches, and suburban sheds are all treated with the same sense of curiosity, reflecting on what contemporary Great Britain is and how it should be.

Rising star of photography, Hawkesworth was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, in 1987. In 2012, the series documenting teenagers traveling on trains across the UK caught the attention of French stylist Benjamin Bruno. Their meeting led Hawkesworth to his first major fashion shoot and an initial acquaintance with Jonathan Anderson. Hawkesworth quickly built a reputation for his lo-fi, documentary approach, which soon saw him producing JW Anderson’s spring/summer 2015 campaign—a nod to ’50s horror cults. For this project, he personally traveled to Suffolk, where he selected a brother and sister he met by chance on the beach, dressed them, and sent them to the sea with “no hair and makeup, nothing at all.” Since then, Hawkesworth has used his work to embark on journeys to previously unseen places, driven by a desire to wander through his homeland, the UK, and explore the vastness of lands beyond. But rather than being merely a means to establish himself as a photographer, these travels have served as opportunities to capture the people he encountered along the way: for Hawkesworth, it’s less about his own journey and more about that of others. In May 2019, Hawkesworth held an exhibition in London titled A Short Pleasurable Journey, Part Two, comprising 86 photographs and a film taken in the Romanian village of Floresti over the course of three weeks.

Untitled, from the series The British Isles, 2007-2020. IN THE TOP IMAGE: Untitled, from the series The British Isles, 2007-2020.
Untitled, from the series The British Isles, 2007-2020.

“Asking strangers to take their picture is a special moment. It’s funny and awkward and you kind of have this interesting, fleeting relationship where you can, just for a second, spend a moment in their universe”.

– Jamie Hawkesworth

Taken between 2007 and 2020, the images in the series The British Isles offer a visual testimony of a tumultuous period in the country’s history, defined by austerity, referendums, and new prime ministers. One image, taken in Hartlepool in the northeast of England, shows a solitary figure in the middle of a golden field while smoke rises from a now-closed factory on the horizon. Although the intention might seem to have a social purpose, Hawkesworth is keen to specify that this is not the case: to be honest, the places were never that important. I would love for people to leave this exhibition feeling the wonder of everyday life, but somehow that would seem silly. So, I probably wouldn’t say that. I suppose it’s just the joy of photography. The works are uniformly titled specifically not to reveal where or when they were made. For Hawkesworth, the details related to place and time are just accessories; removing them serves to reconstruct his experience of creating this body of work, which grew in a non-linear and circumstantial way. The compositional lines and golden tones give the atmosphere an otherworldly air, partly due to the artist’s process: preferring the slower, more tactile approach of analog photography, he shoots exclusively on film and meticulously develops his own prints. Hawkesworth redefines the familiar as a dreamlike world, reinventing his subjects as inhabitants of this world in a radically democratic way.

Untitled, from the series The British Isles, 2007-2020.
Untitled, from the series The British Isles, 2007-2020.

“I really did fall head over heels in love with photography and it came out of nowhere. I had never really used my hands to make stuff and I just remember fiddling around with this camera thinking: God, this is interesting”.

– Jamie Hawkesworth

For further information huxleyparlour.com.

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