Issue 188 of SOCIALIST REVIEW Published July/August 1995 Copyright © Socialist Review
National Heritage, the highly mythologised, highly selective view of British history which became a veritable industry during the Thatcher years, is exposed in all its cynicism in the superb work of photographer John Kippin.
As Thatcherism destroyed a third of Britain's industrial base during the 1980s, it created a vile plastic history of 'heritage sites' and an equally fake future of 'enterprise zones' and shopping malls. Kippin's seemingly conventional landscape photography betrays the sinister shift which took place, displaying the industrial neglect, the philistinism of the Tories' attempted cultural hegemony, and the militarisation of England's 'green and pleasant land'.
John Kippin lays bare the full absurdity of Britain's ever declining post-imperial nationalism. Full of the sickly, unreal colour of Toryism's desired commercial future, the troubled grey skies of our present, and the decay of much of our industrial past, Kippin's photographs are an angry and humorous examination of the real Britain which lies behind the cultural vandalism of 'heritage' and 'post-industrial' nostalgia.
Nostalgia for the Future will be on show at the Zone Gallery in Newcastle, 13 September-22 October. The catalogue (£6.45) is available from the Photographers' Gallery, 5 & 8 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7HY