Chris Killip photographs of 1970s Tyneside go on show in Madrid

Chris Killip photographs showing 1970s Tyneside are being exhibited in the Spanish capital of Madrid

Chris Killip Youth on Wall, Jarrow, Tyneside by Chris Killip
Youth on Wall, Jarrow, Tyneside by Chris Killip

Black and white photographs of 1970s Tyneside are currently on show in Madrid, giving the sunny Spanish capital a flavour of the region.

A major exhibition of images by well-known photographer Chris Killip are being shown at the Reina Sofia Museum there where they struck a chord with writer Peter Fieldman, who lives in Madrid and has previously worked in the North East himself.

Killip, who started work in London in the 1960s and moved to Newcastle where he helped run the Side Gallery, captured on camera the stark realities of life as he saw them: unemployment and the miners’ strikes.

It was, points out Fieldman, a society where the modern world of suburban housing estates, shopping centres and business parks was replacing the mining, shipbuilding and industrial heritage.

Killip spent more than 10 years working in towns like Gateshead, Jarrow, Wallsend and Whitley Bay, focusing on their economic and social changes and capturing bleak scenes which add up to an unique visual record.

His works have been shown in exhibitions around the world and one book of work, called Seacoal, published in 2011, features a community extracting coal from the shores at Lynemouth.

In the exhibition are such works as Housing and Shipyard, Wallsend, taken in 1975, which shows children playing in the street under the shadow cast by a huge ship boasting the name Tyne Pride. Another, taken a year later, is called Youth on Wall, Jarrow, 1976, and shows a dejected-looking young man, knees pulled up and head hidden in his hands.

The exhibition features about 100 images, spanning a time range, and is on show until February.

Gallery literature says: “The purpose is not to show the historical experience but real life in the North of England between 1968 and 2004.”

Fieldman said: “Chris Killip’s work brought back memories. During the mid-sixties, I worked in the North East of England.

“It had been a culture shock to see for myself the north-south divide, which still exists today.”

He added: “At a time when the world is facing so many challenges resulting from globalisation, migration, conflicts, poverty, environmental issues and the effects of the economic crisis, the exhibition is a stark reminder of how the past can reflect the present.”


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