New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Hard Times in Tyneside
Chris Killip
4 & 20 Photographs
Chris Killip, “Youth, Jarrow, Tyneside, 1976”

There’s a kind of beauty in Chris Killip’s photographs, but it’s not always pretty. Killip just may be the antithesis to Lewis Hine, the American photographer who documented the impact of work on American society from the early 1900s through the Depression years and whose work helped influence child labor laws. In contrast, Chris Killip is a contemporary English photographer who teaches at Harvard and who documented the human cost of England’s process of de-industrialization. So instead of seeing men (or children) on the job, Killip’s work here is dedicated to showing the grittiness and despair that afflicted society in the North of England from 1974 to 1988 when unemployment and hopelessness reigned. The image “Man’s Torso” shows a man from the waist down wearing an overcoat sitting on top of a brick wall—he’s faceless and we assume jobless. Other images in this series show working class men on benches, a couple sleeping on the sand, a queue during a bread strike, a desolate playground, and “Couple Eating Fish and Chips.” These were not happy times and these photographs, which cover the reign of four Prime Ministers– Wilson, Heath, Callaghan and Thatcher, show that all too clearly. So as a document of a particularly difficult period in recent British history, Killip succeeds. But as art, most of these images will not linger in your memory.

 by unidentified photographer.
Chris Killip, “Man’s Torso, Gateshead, Tyneside, 1978”

Chris Killip
4 & 20 Photographs


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