Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Central Station

Chris Killip evidently had a knack for seeking out and documenting north-east subcultures. In the mid-1980s, not only did he photograph the tough lives of those who survived by gathering seacoal on the fringes of the North Sea, but also the frenzied moshing of anarcho-punks at the Station in Gateshead.

Formerly a police social club, ironically enough, the venue was a focal point, source of identity and place of escape for local youth. Originally published in zine format and now as a Steindl book, Killip's images are, in Sean O'Hagan's words, "a vivid record of a time, place and scene that has since attained a near mythic status in the musical history of the north-east". The building itself may have gone, but you can still smell the sweat, hear the noise and experience the violently joyous/joyously violent energy in the pictures.

Killip admits that there's a difference in style from his other work, but insists that The Station is nevertheless "part of a continuum - the decline of the industrial north-east at that time". And sure enough, when he talks about the Station as a refuge for "the ignored, the overlooked, the dismissed" in "Thatcher's Britain", the connection with the hardy seacoal collectors is obvious.

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