PODCAST: A Photographic Life, Episode 162: Plus Photographer Mik Critchlow

In episode 162 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed reflecting on the importance of receiving and giving feedback, the long term project and using all forms of art as inspiration, information and aspiration within photographic practice.

Plus this week photographer Mik Critchlow takes on the challenge of supplying Grant with an audio file no longer than 5 minutes in length in which he answer’s the question ‘What Does Photography Mean to You?’

Mik Critchlow is a social documentary photographer based in the North East of England who has worked on long term community-based projects for over forty years. The son of a miner, he has worked within the community with a deep-rooted empathy for the townsfolk, and the area he documents. Critchlow left high school in 1970 at the age of 15 years without academic qualifications and went straight into the workplace two days after leaving school, gaining full-time employment as a tailor’s trimmer at a local clothing factory. From there, he went straight into the Merchant Navy as a cabin boy and worked his way through the ranks to become a Steward/Cook, whilst being active within the National Union of Seamen. In 1977, he enrolled on a two-year course at his local College studying Art History and Graphic design as a mature student, it was while at college that he picked up a camera for the first time and immediately fell in love with the medium and process of photography. On seeing an exhibition of paintings by the ‘Pitmen Painters’, he realised the value of art as a social document and in the same year, he began a long-term photography project which documented his home-town of Ashington, Northumberland. In 1979 he received grant funding from Northern Arts (Arts Council of England) to produce documentary photography work in the area. In 1980 he was commissioned by Side Gallery, Newcastle and was introduced to fellow photographers Chris Killip, Graham Smith and Sirkka Liisa Konttinen, who were also producing long term projects on the working class communities of the North East of England. For the past 42 years, Critchlow has photographed the town, people and surrounding areas of Ashington, the town in which he was born, educated and still lives. His work is held in public and private collections and has been exhibited widely. A book of his work Coal Town was published in 2019. www.mikcritchlow.com

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Dr. Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019).

Grant’s book What Does Photography Mean to You? including 89 photographers who have contributed to the A Photographic Life podcast is on sale now £9.99 https://bluecoatpress.co.uk/product/what-does-photography-mean-to-you/

© Grant Scott 2021

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