The world appears to be getting very excited about the launch of In Flagrante for the second time, I have to admit it leaves a bitter sweet taste in my mouth. My memories of Tyneside at the time Killip shot his "epic" work are some of my warmest, although Killip captures the decay he misses much of the spirit of the natives and the time.. As a collector of photographic art books I never felt the need to own this one, why would I ?, I was there ! I had no need for a Manx lad to show me around Wallsend,and North Shields etc.
These pictures helped me realise how my everyday could be a viable photographic subject, I remember the "Prepare for Revolution" graffiti with great fondness, it had a Citizen Smith vibe to it that appealed to me in my teenage years .
I don't think the years have been kind to this work, to me it appears voyeuristic and follows a naive political agenda that is both patronizing and exploitative. Was Killip just enjoying a bit of class tourism before the heavy industry went tits up ?
Now the ships have gone and the mines that provided the sea coalers with their bounty have vanished Tyneside appears to be less attractive to those inclined to shoot social porn. The talent of this photographer is undeniable and it certainly is a accurate record of this place at this time but for me the collection walks a misleading tightrope that is tightly edited for fear of catching a Geordie with a smile on his face.
The back to back terraces of Tyneside still exist today but perpetuating the whippet keeping, Brown Ale drinking myth is neither accurate or helpfull in the 21st century. These pictures certainly impress on a atheistic level but are cold comfort .to the folks who failed to "prepare for a revolution" of capitalism !
With Sirkka and Killlip working in my backyard at the same time anyone could be forgiven for thinking I must have been deprived and in social peril, nothing could be further from the truth.
Sirkka Liisa Konttinens work in Byker although dealing with the same social and political concerns of the same period appears more balanced to me, the warmth of this close knit community is palpable and this is what the Killip work lacks.
I believe Sirkka still lives in the North East and enjoys an adopted status by the locals, Chris on the other hand chose the American dream which appears to be an odd choice for someone who appeared to follow a pictorial socialist agenda so convincingly.
I admired Killips work greatly at the time of its creation, when I viewed it at the Side Gallery but time has soured my view of it, maybe it is a work of "fiction" ?
The Hoppings Fair, believe it or not Tyneside has lived in colour for years and years !