I was lucky enough to attend the private viewing of Alice Hawkins’ exhibition in Blackpools Grundy art Gallery. The exhibition was put together by Stuart Tulloch the grundys curator and came about due to Hawkins’ current solo exhibition, “The Female Gaze” taking place in the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland. Hawkins is famed for her fashion work for the likes of Vogue and Harpers Bazar , however has recently seen success as a contemporary fine art photographer with her current collection.

The exhibition certainly is a welcome addition to The Grundy and my congratulations go out to Stuart for managing to pull it all together, it was nice to walk down the road to an exhibition as opposed to hoping on the train to Manchester, Bradford or London.

Loyalties to Blackpool aside, the show was not what I would call breathtaking. The layout was pretty standard and there seemed to be little thought placed on which images went where. I saw no links or correlation from one image to the next. I suppose this may have been due to the nature of the exhibition. Hawkins shot a series of portraits of performers and entertainers from Las Vegas and Blackpool. They were photographed in full costume and juxtaposed within their own home living spaces these shots consisted of extravagant Las Vegas lion tamers to Blackpool showgirls. Which is where we come to one of the problems of the exhibition. I assume that one of the main reasons why this work was being shown in Blackpool was due to the fact that many of the subjects were local residents, this also ment that the work seemed a little confused. Shots from Hawkins’ female gaze series ran side by side with the Blackpool entertainers. I just felt that there was an empathsis on “treating the locals” instead of a serious photographic exhibition.

Blackpool Entertainer

Blackpool Entertainer

Hawkins is a visual extravagant photography, it is clear that her creativity is how she has reached the dizzy heights of Vogue in such a short career. At times though I found some of the images to have an unusual focusing spot, some in slightly odd areas, the ear on a face rather than the eye for example. I assumed this was part of her process and obviously on purpose, however this opinion was put into doubt after speaking to Hawkins herself as she wandered round the exhibition. She advised that “she isn’t very technical”.

Over all I was delighted to see an exhibition in Blackpool, however I left feeling a little confused. The work was certainly interesting to look at on the surface, I’m just not sure if that is all it was.

Alice Hawkins : All the world is a stage runs until July 11th 2009. Certainly worth a look.