Through the rabbit hole
Hazel Hurley’s photography is enigmatic and provocative. It makes you smile and it makes you think, and in occasions, it makes you cringe. At just 22 years of age, Hazel has already participated in a variety of exhibitions including shows at Henley Festival, Café Royal and Freud Bar… Hazel Hurley is an artist who knows who she is and perfectly reflects in her art the young culture of the times we live in. In this interview, we explore with Hazel the sources of her inspiration and the experiences that have contributed to shaping her style and her skill.
I-M: Tell us a bit about yourself please Hazel.
H.H: I am a fashion and fine art photographer from London. My fine art photography stemmed from my recent graduation from Goldsmiths University and the creative support from my agency, Beautiful Crime. My photography captures through my own unique imagination, themes of youth, femininity, and trauma. I question and explore different perspectives of the female body, including that of the male gaze and also how women view other women. Additionally I use natural surroundings as well as man-made materials to enhance or distort how the body is seen and viewed.
I-M: How and when did you become interested in art?
H.H: From as long as I can remember I have always had a heavy interest in art. I have vivid memories of being a child and making my parents take me to any exhibition that I found out about. Both of my parents are very artistic but still… they had to tell me off all the time for drawing on the walls or taking pictures on my dad’s camera; so you could say I was born into art! At present, my interest in different varieties of art has expanded due to being part of the Creatives at Beautiful Crime agency. They have enabled me to become interested in aspects of art that I didn’t know even existed.
I-M: Who and what has influenced you?
H.H: There are many different influences on my photography, especially coming from other artists such as Tyler Shields and Jessica Kobessi. Additionally, I find that everything influences my work: things I see on the news, on my social media and even when I’m sitting in a café having a coffee. Instagram for example allows me to play on the method of insta ready, the false projection of something which is perfect but is, in fact, imperfect. Another influence for me is the female form. It isn’t just a perception of sexual pleasure or submission, but about females being empowered and strong, enjoying their own power and not being overpowered by others, in particular by men.
I-M: Have there been any moments in your life that
you feel have marked your career as an artist?
H.H: A big event for me as an artist was exhibiting at Henley festival with Beautiful Crime. I always loved looking at the installations and exhibitions there so being part of one felt like a dream come true. Another experience that I feel has marked me as an artist was travelling around the world with the Fashion Weeks, in particular New York. It allowed me to meet other artists both in my field and in other disciplines. The people I met were inspiring and pushed my work to be even more creative; and gave me experiences that I could turn into art forms.
I-M: Could you explain the transition from your first book of images to the last one? The first one was, in my view, very politically charged, thought-provoking and controversial, whilst the last one is, or seems to be fully devoted to fashion.
H.H: The transition from my first book Hazel Hurley, to my next book, Memento, followed the change in my life after leaving University, when I became a full-time artist. At University I majored in Photography and Minored in Politics; therefore my inspiration heavily lay in topics I was studying and what was going on in the world at the time. When I left university I travelled a lot for my work and I met many inspiring people who have taught me new skills in photography.
I showcased these skills on the go with fashion street looks.
I-M: Do you feel you have a clear trajectory for your art?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
H.H: Actually I do feel I have a clear trajectory for my art. At the beginning of each year and month I sit down and set goals I want to achieve by the end of that period. This discipline not only helps to motivate me but also helps me to see how well I have done in my journey into art. So far, I am on track to achieving what I want to this year! In 10 years time I hope to be still creating topical subjects in my art which are thought-provoking for the viewers; and in my fashion work I hope to be shooting for magazine covers like Paper.