Taking over 14 rooms, the photographer’s oeuvre will be thoroughly explored
Photographer Jamie Hawkesworth discovered his craft in a pretty unlikely way. It was while undertaking a degree in forensics at the University of Central Lancashire in 2007 that Hawkesworth first picked up a camera, after being asked to capture a reconstructed crime scene for a class assignment. Within a year, he had enrolled himself in the photography department.
His first project Preston is my Paris (2010) – made as part of a collective – evolved into the much-celebrated series and book, Preston Bus Station (2015). In 2016 and 2017, Hawkesworth travelled to the Congo and Colombia for reportage projects, and this past April, he was the subject of a solo show at New York’s Red Hook Gallery.
“Photography is a disarmingly subtle act of sensing, then waiting, until a subject reveals itself,” he explains. “It is my chosen medium because of its capacity to intensify what we see, and to capture the unique truths that lie beneath the surface of our encounters. This enduring and patient economy of means channels our shared, multivalent sense of wonder at being present in the world.”
His promise as a photographer was immediately clear after Preston is my Paris was published, which included portraits of people taken at Preston Bus Station. Published as a pamphlet that proved popular, and, in turn, sold out, Hawkesworth decided to return to the Brutalist bus station and continue shooting – especially after he found out it was set to be demolished. This series would become Preston Bus Station. Through both Preston is my Paris and Preston Bus Station, Hawkesworth had elevated a public space into a place for new possibilities.
“(Photography) is my chosen medium because of its capacity to intensify what we see, and to capture the unique truths that lie beneath the surface of our encounters” – Jamie Hawkesworth
“This portrayal of the people passing through the bus station became a blueprint for my photographic practice,” he says, “it is where I learned about light, and the patience of waiting for an encounter to unfold. It is where I learned how to approach strangers and capture the details of beauty that drew me to them. I began to appreciate the essential and alchemical possibilities of photography to translate and fix the chance-sent and the fleeting.”
Inevitably, the fashion world came calling – something that Hawkesworth puts down to “luck” and “happenstance”. He has had a particularly prolific collaboration with J.W.Anderson (and later Loewe), as well as producing work for Miu Miu and Alexander McQueen. But with his eye for heritage, nuance, and an ability to capture authenticity – thanks to his documentary-style – that invitation comes as no surprise to anyone else. “Fashion has been a rich space for me because it hinges on collaboration and offers broad photographic possibilities, in part due to the intensity of commercial shoots,” he explains, adding that his curiousity for people and places has really flourished here. “Through fashion photography, I became comfortable engaging with unfamiliar people and places, he says. “With each commissioned encounter – each a visual challenge in itself – I aimed to capture the specific, imperfect, and human vitality of the collaborative moment for the pages of magazines.”
Most recently, it was announced that Hawkesworth’s work will inhabit a new space – 14 rooms in Amsterdam's Huis Marseille, including a room dedicated to girlfriend, model and muse, Mica Arganaraz. Other spaces in the museum will be dedicated to different subjects and experiences. Titled Landscape with Tree and opening 9 September until 3 December 2017, the exhibition looks set to be a cathartic experience for both viewer and creator.
“(Landscape with Tree) has offered me the daunting but welcome opportunity to think deeply about the bodily experience of photography,” explains Hawkesworth. “I create material photographs, and my full discovery of the colouration and character of each photograph happens in the darkroom. Each of the 14 gallery spaces here at Huis Marseille has its own character. My aim has been to create a photographic experience in synergy with the architectural setting, and in anticipation of your engagement with the works. There are moments of intimacy, simplicity, and intensity in this exhibition that, without being overtly instructive, mirror the experiences that I’ve had through photography.”
Jamie Hawkeworth’s Landscape with Tree opens at Amsterdam’s Huis Marseille, Keizersgracht 401, 1016 EK Amsterdam on 9 September – 3 December 2017