Chris Killip

Couple asleep on the sand, South Shields, Tyneside

1976, printed 2012–13

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Chris Killip born 1946
Medium
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Dimensions
Image: 388 x 504 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Acquisitions Committee 2014
Reference
P81039

Summary

This is one of four black and white photographs in Tate’s collection from the British photographer Chris Killip’s series Seaside, Tyneside and Wearside 1975–6 (Tate P81038P81041). In contrast to most of Killip’s photographs taken in the north-east of England during this period, they do not document social deprivation and unrest but rather are a reflection of British seaside and holiday culture and leisure.

Killip is best known for his extensive series of photographs taken in the north-east of England, such as General North East 1975–9 and Shipbuilding 1972–81 (see Tate P81021P81037), which focus on the changing industrial landscape and increasingly poverty stricken social and economic climate. Though born on the Isle of Man – which he also photographed (see Tate P20400P20422) – Killip decided to settle in Newcastle-upon-Tyne when the oil and IMF crises, deindustrialisation and redundancy became the defining conditions of life in northern England. The overriding theme in most of the photographs taken in the north-east is the industrial decline of the manufacturing towns and the social disintegration that resulted in some parts of the country. Killip’s working practice is distinctive for the way he immerses himself into the communities he photographs and builds relationships with his subjects over a long period of time. This close level of involvement shows itself through images that are sensitive to the local environment and its inhabitants, as also seen in images from the Seaside, Tyneside and Wearside series such as Couple Asleep on the Sand, South Shields, Tyneside 1976 (Tate P81039) and Care Home Day Out, Seaburn, Sunderland, Wearside 1975 (Tate P81038).

Killip is considered one of the most significant photographers to have emerged in Britain in the 1970s, known particularly for his black and white photography and engagement with the communities he photographs. Tate’s collection also includes groups of photographs from his series: Isle of Man 1970–3 (Tate P20400P20422); Huddersfield, Yorkshire 1973–4 (Tate P81015P81020); General North East 1975–9 and Shipbuilding 1972–81 (see Tate P81021P81037); Skinningrove, North Yorkshire 1982–3 (see Tate P81042P81048); Sea Coal, Lynemouth, Northumberland 1983–4 (see Tate P81048P81057 and P81063); and Pirelli 1989–90 (Tate P20394P20399, P81058P81062 and P81064).

Further reading
Chris Killip; Arbeit/ Work, exhibition catalogue, Museum Folkwang, Essen 2012.
Clive Dilnot, ‘Chris Killip: The Last Photographer of the Working Class’, afterimage, vol.39, May–June 2012.

Simon Baker
February 2014

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