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Hannah Starkey, b.1971


Acting like a film or theatre director, Belfast-born artist Hannah Starkey carefully stages her photographs. Starkey works with professional actors, chosen by the artist to play a certain role in the scenarios that she scripts. Costumes, lighting, location, time of day are all pinned down in advance of creating the final image. Starkey’s images seem like snatched moments and often it appears as though the sitters have been caught unawares, mid-thought or mid-action. Knowing about the careful planning behind the work shatters this illusion. In an age when images are so readily available to us, Starkey questions this possibility of catching a moment, freezing it – and in doing so she also questions the role of photography in creating and recording memories. Starkey’s stage is the urban landscape that she inhabits – the places of interest to her are commonplace, and often banal. In this work the setting is a local school. The location is somehow at once familiar and unfamiliar; recognizable, yet not quite the norm. Head down-turned a woman dressed in a leopard print dress appears isolated from the other characters. Positioned centrally beneath an overhead porch light, she seems iconic, bathed in a golden halo-like glow. We are left to wonder why these women are gathered here. What is on tonight inside the school?

MediumC-type print
Dimensions Framed, 126 x 164 x 4 cm
Unframed, 122 x 160 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Donated by George and Maura McClelland, 2000
Item NumberIMMA.1258
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Hannah Starkey, Untitled, 1999, C-type print, Framed, 126 x 164 x 4 cm|Unframed, 122 x 160 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Donated by George and Maura McClelland, 2000

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

About the Artist

Hannah Starkey b.1971

Hannah Starkey studied photography at Napier University, Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Art, London. Working with professional actors, Starkey constructs complex images in urban environments that suggest chance encounters and personal impressions. Starkey has exhibited extensively since the 1990s, including solos exhibitions at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry; Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York. ‘Hannah Starkey: Photographs’ took place at IMMA in 2000.

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Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.