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It’s fair to say Graham lived a wild life when he was shooting,” says Parr. “He had rough times, drinking, sleeping out. But I think of him as one of the great characters of photography. He’s a bit like Josef Koudelka in that way. Until you sit down with him, and hear the stories, you don’t get it. And, of course, his legend has only grown in his absence.”
Seacoal — CHRIS KILLIP
For the next few years, Killip worked at night in his father’s pub and, by day, travelled the island shooting his first series of landscapes and portraits. The island had become a tax haven for outsiders and Killip rightly sensed that its traditional jobs were under threat. He set out to evoke that disappearing way of life and, in doing so, set the tone for much of what was to follow, not just in terms of his choice of subject matter, but in his formal rigour and deeply immersive, slowly evolving approach.Chris Killip: My camera’s very visible. It’s big. And there’s something good about this, where you have to deal with the fact that I am a photographer and I am here. Look at this great big contraption. When Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz take a picture, we recognize the fame of the person. It’s harder to take a picture of someone that’s completely unknown and make it interesting, because they’re not famous. They’re anonymous. Because Chris knew he was dying, and because he was leaving a lot of the work in the [Martin] Parr Foundation as his archive, he did what I’ve been regarding as his first selection of the retrospective,” says Marshall-Grant. The works on display have been curated from that first ‘edit’ by Killip, and, aside from the oversized pieces in the show, the prints were all made by him in the last decade of his life. “So it’s been quite good because we can already feel quite close to what he wanted,” she adds.
‘Rocker hand-picking seacoal‘, Chris Killip, 1984, printed
They are full of admiration for the work and admiration for the pictures in the way they capture people. I think when we go to the Baltic it will be much more about the people and how they recognise themselves." Chris Killip/Graham Smith is at Augusta Edwards, London, until 6 November. Chris Killip, Retrospective is at the Photographers Gallery, London, until 19 February
I am the photographer of the de-industrial revolution in England. I didn’t set out to be this. It’s what happened during the time I was photographing.” —Chris Killip Chris Killip, born on the Isle of Man in 1946, is a Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University where he has taught since 1991.