If there’s one thing the UK’s art institutions are doing right, it’s their representation of the youngest, freshest art and design talent emerging from education across the country. Freshfaced + Wildeyed is The Photographers’ Gallery’s annual exhibition dedicated to supporting young, up-and-coming photographers. Established in 2008, this year is the seventh instalment, and the 2015 selection is astonishingly impressive. Here are the five we can’t get out of our heads.
Craig Gibson’s submission for the Freshfaced + Wildeyed showcase, entitled Born After Birth, delves into the often concealed world of adult baptism in the Baptist church community, which he captures in a refreshingly honest and unaffected way. “As a pillar of faith adult baptism is seen as the only legitimate means to wash one’s sins away, and therefore, reject the validity of infant baptism,” he explains. He’s also compiled the series in an A5 zine, creating a whole new means of access to this unexplored territory.
Fresh from an MA in Photography at the London College of Communication, Jocelyn Allen presented a compelling series of nudes which place the female form under the spotlight. “In July 2014, a painting was removed from a London gallery for showing a woman’s pubic hair,” she explains on her website. “If a painting can be deemed as ‘pornographic and disgusting,’ what about a woman in real life captured by light?” Twisting the lithe figures into unnatural poses, the series shows the female body contorted so as to conceal this hotly debated area, creating a fascinating series of images in the process.
RCA graduate Dominic Hawgood’s photographs are so crisp and unwavering that, viewed against a light source as they are in the exhibition, they’re almost overwhelming in their clarity. He combines CGI, lighting design and installation, he explains on his website, and “investigates topics that inhabit the imaginary spaces of people’s minds.”
The UK’s student body is composed of an ever-expanding and innumerable list of cultures and nationalities, which might have something to do with why Coco Capitàn’s series, which deals with the narratives connecting a community and its outsiders, feels so resonant in this exhibition. Entitled Middle Point Between MY HOUSE and China, the series brings together images taken in China with studio portraits, to create a subtle but powerfully engaging portrait of the photographer’s sense of disassociation and home.
Francesca Jane Allen
Francesca Jane Allen’s work takes pride of place in the gallery, where a whole wall is dedicated to her natural, un-retouched images of girls on the cusp of womanhood exploring their identities. An It’s Nice That Graduate of 2014, Francesca’s work continues to capture that ineffable essence of youth that so many have tried and failed to replicate. They don’t come much more exciting than this.