A photography exhibition documenting the rise and fall of the shipbuilding trade in the North East of England in the 1970s.
Chris Killip’s photographs document the lives of working people and their resilience of spirit while at the same time recording the steady decline of industrial Britain. This exhibition draws from his archive, including previously unpublished photographs of shipbuilding on Tyneside.
Initially coming to the North East in 1975 as the Northern Arts Photography Fellow (a two-year photography project jointly financed by Northern Arts and Northern Gas), Chris Killip lived and worked on Tyneside until 1991 when he was recruited by Harvard University to teach photography in its Visual Studies Program.
Killip was fascinated by the way huge ships and industrial cranes provided a backdrop to everyday life in Wallsend and South Shields. The ship Tyne Pride, which he photographed in 1975, was the biggest ship ever built on the river, but also one of the last.
"Even then I had a sense that all this was not going to last," he says, "though I had no idea how soon it would all be gone."
In an early photograph, Tyne Pride looms over children playing in the street. Only two years later, another photograph shows the same street demolished - dramatic evidence of the industry’s decline.
Other photographs capture the energy of the mid-1970s, with ships under construction and shipyard workers streaming out of the gates at the end of shift. Chris Killip has given this set of exhibition prints to Laing Art Gallery in honour of the shipyard workers of Tyneside.