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What’s it like to be sixteen years old now?

In June, Shetland Arts presents Sixteen, an exhibition delivered as part of the Beyond Bonhoga off-site programme. It will include a powerful series of portraits and testimonies shown on the hoardings surrounding the new Hjaltland Housing development on King Harald St in Lerwick, and an accompanying audio-visual component featuring in Mareel.

In this major touring exhibition leading contemporary photographers join forces with more than one hundred and seventy sixteen-year-olds across the UK to explore their dreams, hopes and fears and who and what they care about.

Thanks to additional Arts Council England funding Sixteen begins an extended spring touring programme. New partnerships in Hull, Shetland, Wirral, and Widnes follow acclaimed exhibitions earlier this year across Greater Manchester, and at Format International Photography Festival in Derby.

Photographer Craig Easton conceived this ambitious project in collaboration with sixteen-year-olds at the time of the Scottish independence referendum. It was the first, and as yet only time in the United Kingdom sixteen-year-olds have been given the vote. Building on the success of this work he invited some of the UK’s foremost documentary portrait photographers to collaborate with him and young people to create visual vox pops on what it means to be sixteen now.

Photographers Robert C Brady, Linda Brownlee, Lottie Davies, Jillian Edelstein, Stuart Freedman, Sophie Gerrard, Kalpesh Lathigra, Roy Mehta, Christopher Nunn, Kate Peters, Simon Roberts, Michelle Sank, and Abbie Trayler-Smith joined Craig Easton to develop and produce Sixteen. Working with photography, film, social media, audio recordings and writing, they brought together the faces and testimonies of young people from diverse communities across the UK, giving prominence to voices rarely heard.

Sixteen spring touring programme

In May Hull Central Library celebrates the first touring exhibition in its new gallery space.
Jillian Edelstein’s suite of stunning portraits, made in collaboration with the Hull Warren Youth Project and Wilberforce College students, was shot in a pop-up classroom studio. Each sixteen-year-old included the title of a favourite song in their testimony as another way of telling their story. Photographic, FaceTime and video portraits of young people in areas reaching from the Scottish Islands and Cornwall and shown in the Library with their Hull contemporaries, as an integral part of the Sixteen project.

In June Shetland Arts presents a bold iteration of Sixteen, with a powerful series of portraits and testimonies on hoardings in the heart of Lerwick. Later in June the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum in Wirral hosts an exhibition of Sixteen portraits, selected and curated in response to this striking Neo-Georgian building. At the same time Widnes Vikings Rugby Club launches Kalpesh Lathigra’s video and photographic work made with scholars at the club’s youth academy. These young men describe the role of their families, the strength and support the sport engenders, and their hopes for a professional future in Rugby League. This sits alongside Craig Easton’s portraits, which represent a range of sixteen-year-olds from the surrounding Widnes and Runcorn area.

Both the Wirral and Widnes exhibitions offer a foretaste of the compelling work that launches Sixteen’s summer programme across the Liverpool City Region at the end of July.

Photo credit Craig Easton. Image: Enya, 16, Brae, Shetland


For further information, images or to arrange interviews, please contact Jennifer Dean j.dean06@gmail.com or 07766046672

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