Review: Chris Killip at BALTIC

BALTIC is currently hosting an exhibition to showcase the work of Chris Killip, one of the UK's most prominent post-war photographers

Zahra Hanif
19th May 2023
Image Credit: @balticgateshead on Twitter

BALTIC is currently hosting an exhibition showcasing the work of documentary photographer Chris Killip. From the 1st April to the 3rd of September this year, you can go to the ground floor of the gallery for an insight into Killip's life works as one of the UK's most prominent post-war photographers. 

Upon initial observation, it became evident to me almost immediately that Chris Killip's photographs were concerned with the everyday life, even the mundane, at first glance anyway, - the grayscale of the images evoking a sense of gloom. The camera captured images of communities that can only be described as harrowing. Between desolate landscapes of devoid shops and streets, and portraits focused on working-class individuals, I could infer that these were scenes and individuals that had been inflicted by hardship, namely the economic shifts throughout the 1970s and 80s.

Killip himself described the lives he represents as having "had history done to them" - helpless to financial struggle. 

This is by no means a light-hearted exhibition, however it is an important one. Killip is said to have been documenting these individuals and the world around them to affirm their value as members of society, as despite their unfortunate circumstance they were still humans with virtue.

It's an important message, and particularly resonating as a lot of Killip's work showcases the North East of England. 

Overall, the exhibition was thought-provoking, poignant and profound. I enjoyed the consistency of his style, as every photograph felt connected, perhaps a reminder of our interdependence as humans. I would definitely recommend you visit when you can.

The exhibition rightfully honours a man who put his best effort into preserving what could have been so easily overlooked, as these were individuals that were simply feeling the aftermath of history, rather than defining it - an exceptional legacy from a talented and influential photographer.

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AUTHOR: Zahra Hanif
English literature student :)

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