John Kippin is an artist and photographer who lives and works in the north-east of England and who works largely within the broad context of landscape. Many of his works integrate texts and images in ways that challenge the realist paradigm that traditionally underpins a range of documentary and realist practices.
Like Kippin’s ‘Belgravia’ and ‘Gentlemen’ work it is that ‘third space’ that is created by the juxtaposition of (text) muslims praying and (image) ‘English landscape’ that is powerful. My first thought when I saw this on the screen was that it was an archive image of a picnic in the Lake District (where I was born), but once I clocked the title and scanned the image (for signs and signifiers). I realised that this was a muslim group. The paradox of landscape with populous is clear and invites questions about nationhood and the relationship between place and identity. For me this lake is an iconic place in my childhood and it challenges my thoughts and feelings about this place. I don’t think that this is a racial thing as I admire and respect the spirituality of religious groups. I could see a similar challenge if this was a far-right group or it was a rock festival.
This banner in the image above was a commission and was displayed on buses in the Northeast. It makes me question that juxtaposition between text and images especially as they are images of railways and not buses. The words suggest a metaphorical meaning but the railway lines are harsh with sparse landscapes. It is the word ‘Interior’ as destination that is unsettling and provoking.
There is lots to learn here. Another of his public works is a series of objects whose purpose is to induce fantasy relationships. He includes a set of rosary beads here which would be seen a controversial by some people. I think it is the understated but challenging nature of the series that is interesting and something that I aspire to.
Another work that caught my eye was a series of portraits called ‘This will not Happen.’ These are close portraits of people smoking and have a painterly quality similar to a painter that I am talking too about a commission for a portrait.
There is much that I admire in the labelling of his images – I looked at everything on his site. Another thing that I admire is the quality of the images; they can be sure-saturated and vibrant or cool and empty of colour and people. I am a member of the North East Photographic Network which is coordinated by Sunderland University where he is a professor; I will keep my eye open for him.