New exhibition curated by Eleanor Hardwick features young female photographers exploring youth, rebellion, freedom, sexuality and femininity.

New exhibition curated by Eleanor Hardwick features young female photographers exploring youth, rebellion, freedom, sexuality and femininity.

Eleanor Hardwick is a freelance photographer and artist from Oxfordshire, England. Shooting photos since she was just thirteen, Eleanor has collaborated with a world-class roster of clients and publications from Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie Magazine, where she is a staff photographer (who also styles, illustrates, makes playlists and mixtapes, writes reviews and makes comics and DIY tutorials) to Vogue, Tatler, Sony and many more.

Her work is a beautifully rendered depiction of youth – part of auto-biographical and part-fantasy – that mixes contemporary aesthetics with old-world mythology and folklore. Her new project Twenty Thirteen – two ‘zines and an exhibition at Doomed Gallery, Dalston, London – is due to launch this Thursday so we caught up with the talented creator-turned-curator to find out more.

What exactly is Twenty Thirteen?
I’ve been taking photos since just before I turned thirteen years old, and this year I turned twenty. So I have this entire documentation of my youth in the form of photographs, scrapbooks and communication with other young photographers. I wanted to create a duo of ‘zines to celebrate this.

The first ‘zine contains photographs of the people I have met in real life and in my own head. Mostly they are diary photos, but a few are more staged, of young people I have met acting as other young characters I have invented. This first ‘zine is entitled Twenty Thirteen: Strange Encounters. The second is called Twenty Thirteen: What Remains and is a collection of the scrapbooks, journals and collages I have made over the years. Before I do photoshoots, I plan them out extensively, collecting archive images, magazine tears and sketching, hunting for locations and creating moodboards of my plans. I also collect all the gig tickets, plane tickets, stamps, notes and letters friends have sent me, and compile them all into journals where I link together unrelated memories using colour schemes, themes and associations between these collected items, drawing and writing lyrics around them. So that is what is in the second ‘zine, combined with collage and mixed media works.

I wanted to put on an event that was a celebration of other young artists that I have connected with during these early years of my artistic career. So I invited 41 other young female photographers from around the globe to exhibit. And my friends Flamingods and Hypnotized will also be djing.

Why did you decide to start it?
I realised that I’ve been pretty lucky, in that I am one of the first generations of photographers who has easy access to digital cameras, online platforms to display my work, and social media where I can connect with other young photographers. We are the first young photographers to have this level playing field to be recognised for our work so young and able to work at this age. But so much of our work and connections have been made online, so I wanted to take things off the internet and put them into a physical form. In a world where everything that my generation has ever created has been instantly uploaded to the internet, becoming immortalised and viewable by millions across the globe, I want this exhibition to rekindle the magic of tangibility and ephemerality. And after one night, it will be gone, much like the fleetingness of youth. So I wanted to keep the style of the event very DIY, because most of these photographers are self-taught, and I liked the Do-it-young/Do-it-yourself approach. So the event is for ONE NIGHT ONLY, and we are printing all of the work on newsprint, stuck directly to the wall, so the viewer feels very close and intimate with these tangible works. Most of the posters will be for sale for around £5, similar to the approach of The Photocopy Club (an event run by Matt Martin of B RAD who is curating the event and publishing the ‘zines with me). So it will be very accessible, especially for young people.

How do you hope it will have an impact?
I hope it will make viewers of the work, and clients in the photographic industry, realise that age is just a number. And that there are so many talented people out there. There is a big gap in the history of photography, particularly things like fashion and advertising, where the work is so often about young people, especially teenage girls, but never through the eyes of that subject. Now women and young generations are getting more of an opportunity to prove they are just as capable, if not more capable, than their elders at representing and creating work about youth. And I think it is important that the community between these photographers is really tight, that we support each other rather than compete. Especially as young feminists.

There seem to be a lot of interesting emerging female photographers at the moment. Why do you think that is? Are you excited about the groundswell?
Before, photographers would so often have to work their way up in the industry, assisting and such. Now anyone has the opportunity to get a camera and experiment and put their work online. I think people are becoming more aware that the voice of young females needs to be heard. It’s what’s relevant! Particularly in an era where younger generations’ knowledge of the internet and social media in many ways exceeds older adults. So often in advertising photography too, clients are trying to appeal to young audiences. So it makes sense that the work to sell these products is made by young photographers too, as they understand the wants, desires and problems of being a young woman at this time. And there are more and more great things bringing these photographers together, like Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie Magazine and Petra Collins’ collective The Ardorous, which excites me more than anything.

Who’s involved in Twenty Thirteen and what does everyone do?
So there is myself, and Matt Martin, who runs B RAD gallery and publishing in Brighton. He is publishing the ‘zines and curating the exhibition with me. I cannot thank him enough for making this possible. Then exhibiting we have myself alongside 41 photographers: Olivia Bee, Saga Sig, Coco Capitan, Stine Sampers, Erica Joy, Sofa Ajram, Alba Yruela, Dana Boulos, Alis Pelleschi, Hana Haley, Sanaa Hamid, Francesca Allen, Monika Mogi, Billie Turnbull, Arvida Bystrom, Alicia Griffiths, Lauren Poor, Rebekah Campbell, Charlotte Rutherford, Mike and Claire, Eleni Mettyear, Hanna Antonsson, Laurence Philomene, Marie Zucker, Allyssa Yohana, Maisie Cousins, Beth Siveyer, Rachel Hardwick, Rachel Hodgson, Elies Van Renterghem, Cheyenne Sophia, Miri Matsufiji, Ayesha Tan Jones, Tara Violet Niami, Shriya Samavai, Katie Eleanor, Lauren Withrow, Maya Kibbel, Anna Ryon, Masha Mel and Sandy Honig. Many of these photographers are part of the community of photographers putting their work on, or contributors to Rookie Magazine. Many of these girls are very highly recognised photographers who do photography as a full time career, or take days off from studying to do commissions.

And then of course I want to thank Doomed Gallery itself, Flamingods and Hypnotized for djing. This artistic community far exceeds just photography, and permeates into areas of curation, fine art, music and performance just as much. So we are all interconnected and often take a multidisciplinary approach towards our work.

How can people get involved/show support?
Buying the ‘zine, attending the exhibition, buying the works that are for sale! I’m hoping in the future we can put on more exhibitions too, perhaps with more performance, live music, films and things like Q&As and ‘zine-making workshops. I felt throughout my adolescence there was a lack of accessible events and places to go where young people can get involved. So I want teenagers to feel like they have somewhere to go rather than this limbo between not being allowed at home, and being too young to do other things. I want youth to be represented and properly catered for. I hope even maybe this might inspire other young artists to put on their own events and share their work if they’re not doing so already.

What have been the challenges in bringing Twenty Thirteen to life?
There haven’t been many challenges! Simply because I feel like there is so much work and so many photographers that I want to show! Maybe that was a limitation; that we had to edit down seven years of my work for the ‘zines. And that even though we have 41 photographers exhibiting, there are still others I wish could be contributing. There are so many talented people out there and we are all connected. I love that many of the girls exhibiting have works OF the other exhibitors. It’s like a chain reaction of inspiration. I wish we could show a huge body of work for each photographer, rather than only one or two photographs each. If we do another event like this, I hope we can have the time and budget to make it even bigger and more interactive. I want the people who attend to feel inspired so that they can make things too. There aren’t enough workshops and experiences where people can get involved, and create and learn. Maybe things like live jam sessions with bands, and ‘zine-making workshops.

What have been the major inspirations?
I was just inspired by youth, freedom, rebellion, femininity. I really want to help people recognise young talent, while also making it accessible. I was inspired by the fact that there aren’t so many inclusive, interactive, multimedia events for young photographers.

What’s the future for Twenty Thirteen?
I guess Twenty Fourteen?! I hope I can put on other events and make more books and ‘zines in the future, perhaps along themes that develop as we all grow older and time moves on. I definitely often feel like I am racing against the timeline of life. There is so much to share and see and do and so little time. Which is probably why I have tried to do so much even though I am twenty.

You can see more of Eleanor’s personal work on her website and details for the Twenty Thirteen show on Thursday are on the Facebook event.