These images are from a series called Sixteen, exploring what it means to be sixteen in the UK today.
I explored the personal expressions, challenges and inspirations of being a young person growing up in Cornwall, in one of the most deprived areas of the UK, opening up conversations with young people about their hopes and fears and who or what sustains them, giving prominence to voices rarely heard.
I felt privileged by the connection formed with my subjects, their families and their guardians. They generously shared their stories, social and family structures, and domestic surroundings.
Having access to my subjects in this way enabled me to understand many previously hidden social challenges.
South African-born Michelle Sank settled in the UK in 1987. This background informed her interest in subcultures and contemporary social issues.
Her crafted portraits meld place and person, creating sociological, visual and psychological landscapes and narratives.
Sank’s photographs have been exhibited and published extensively around the world. Her imagery is held in the permanent collections of Allan Servais (Brussels), Open Eye Gallery Archive (Liverpool) and The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), among many others.
Sank’s widely commissioned and published work has won awards in numerous prestigious competitions, including the Taylor Wessing Prize and the British Journal of Photography award. She was recently a winner in The Portrait of Britain and the Photo Review international competition.
Sank has four published books exploring diverse themes and topics. All have been incredibly well-received nationally and internationally.
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