The Isle of Man, A Book About The Manx, published by the Arts Council of England in 1980, was the first time I came across the photographs of Chris Killip. This tender set of portraits, still lifes and landscapes had a similar feel and striking resemblance to Paul Strand's photographs of the Outer Hebrides, which were taken in 1954 and first published as Tir A'Mhurain. The Outer Hebrides of Scotland in 1962.
At the end of last year Ponybox [http://www.ponybox.co.uk/] printed a series of tabloid-sized publications of Killip's later work from the NE England and taken in the 1980's: The Station, Portaits, The Last Ships and Skinningrove. I bought copies of the last two publications which stand as a testament of changed times and are a remarkable piece of publishing of an equally remarkable photographer.
THE LAST SHIPS 1975–77
”While I couldn’t help making the photographs of shipbuilding that I made, it was a personal obsession. At the time I didn’t exhibit or show them to anyone as I didn’t want to be thought of as an industrial photographer. I had a sense that all this was not going to last, although I had no idea how soon it would all be gone. I became the photographer of the de-industrial revolution by default, I didn’t set out to be this. It’s what was happening all around me during the time I was photographing.” — Chris Killip
“The village of Skinningrove lies on the North-East coast of England. Hidden in a steep valley it veers away from the main road and faces out onto the North Sea. Like a lot of tight-knit fishing communities it could be hostile to strangers, especially one with a camera. I last photographed in Skinningrove in 1984, and didn’t return for twenty-six years. When I did I was shocked by how it had changed, as only one boat was still fishing. For me Skinningrove’s sense of purpose was bound up in its collective obsession with the sea. Skinningrove fishermen believed that the sea in front of them was their private territory, theirs alone.” — Chris Killip
Covers of the Ponybox publications of Chris Killip
Pages from The Last Ships, Chris Killip
Pages from Skinningrove, Chris Killip