Inside this issue
End frame: Dorset, 1986 by Sir Don McCullin
Kevin Allan chooses one of his favourite images
Kevin is an amateur photographer based in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. He shoots mainly on film, in formats from 35mm to 4x5, and his aim in photography is to please no-one but himself. Unlike David Ward, he has never won a t-shirt, but he did once win a David Ward print in a raffle.
When I was invited to contribute to End Frame, I immediately knew that my choice would be a Don McCullin image. Now, landscapes are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when recalling the work of Don McCullin, who is generally best known for having spent a lifetime photographing in conflict situations such as Vietnam, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Beirut, Cambodia, and many other countries; not forgetting his portrayals of poverty in the north of England and elsewhere.
McCullin considers it insulting to be called a “war photographer” and has spoken of the distress he has suffered through the frequent exposure to the horrors of conflict. Since many photographers consider their hobby (or for a professional, their “personal work”), a form of therapy, giving relief from whatever stressful situations they experience, perhaps it is not surprising that a portion of landscape work has found its’ way into his published work, most notably in his 2018 book, simply titled “The Landscape”.
However, McCullin’s landscapes are not obviously oases of beauty in a desert of gritty social reality. Shot on black and white film, they are generally low-key, sometimes grainy, often shot in winter, featuring bare trees and muddy fields. One or two of the images invite a comparison, to my mind, between the fields near his Somerset home and a scene of trench warfare.
I took some time to select just one image from this substantial book, but eventually settled on “Dorset, 1986”.