My favourite book of the moment...

The review puts it well, I think. These photographs by Chris Killip in his book “arbeit work” are masterful. Like anything remotely worthwhile they can be admired (“enjoyed” might not quite be the correct word to use here, at least initially) on many levels.

Killip is a “concerned” photographer almost by default, although he is very much concerned with the lives of those he photographs. His original intention was to record the old ways of life of his birthplace, the Isle of Man, before it disappeared. This led him to document other areas of Northern England in roughly similar economic circumstances - Huddersfield, Newcastle and so on. In doing so he has identified a time and place quite unlike any other, and he has done it with love and compassion for the people who call these places home.

Stylistically, the pictures range from portraits to landscapes to reportage. All are handled equally well and there are no filler shots - everything strengthens everything else.

The photographs themselves are quite beautiful. He has used a large format camera to produce a stunning body of black and white work which is completely in sync with the story and the feel he is after. Publisher Steidl has done a wonderful job with the reproductions on the printed page.

Initially it would be very difficult, I believe, to not be at least a little with the reviewer in finding many of these pictures quite depressing, and imbued with an overall feeling of hopelessness and desperation. However arbeit is such powerful work that it demands repeated viewing, and I am finding that as one gets to know these people a little better, one identifies more of the stoicism and resilience that Killip finds with them.

Highly recommended, even though it is a little on the expensive side: