© Sophie Gerrard
What’s it like to be sixteen years old now?’ This is the central thread running through the ambitious touring exhibition SIXTEEN.
Photographer Craig Easton conceived this project following his engagement with first-time voters in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. It was the first - and as yet only time – sixteen-year-olds were given suffrage in the United Kingdom. He went on to invite award-winning photographers to join forces and develop his vision.
Robert C Brady, Linda Brownlee, Lottie Davies, Craig Easton, Jillian Edelstein, Stuart Freedman, Sophie Gerrard, Kalpesh Lathigra, Roy Mehta, Christopher Nunn, Kelly O Brien, Kate Peters, Simon Roberts, Michelle Sank, Abbie Trayler- Smith, and MFA candidate David Copeland collaborated with more than a hundred and seventy young people from diverse communities across the UK. Using photography, film, social media, audio and writing, they invited them to share their hopes and fears. They give voice to those seldom heard.
The ensuing portraits and the sixteen-year-olds candid testimonies reveal whom and what they really care about. They reflect the trust developed between the photographers the young people. Their words highlight how social background, gender, ethnicity, education, health and location all influence teenage life and ambition.
The final stage of the extensive national tour prior to London is produced in partnership with Street Level Photoworks. The curators’ choice of images from the broader SIXTEEN portfolio celebrates young people living in Scotland. This selection includes Linda Brownlee’s sensitive studio portrait of spoken word artist Andrew, hung with his poem in homage to Louis Braille; Craig Easton’s tender diptychs of sixteen-year-olds that explore landscape and language in the Scottish Islands; Stuart Freedman’s joyful portrait of Rebekah, swinging from a huge tree in Dunblane; and Sophie Gerrard’s quiet photographs of young people across the country as they reflect on a future in Scotland’s rural and cultural life.
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