Don McCullin

'Nothing ever stays the same in life. You find a place you really love and think it’s going to stay like that forever and it won’t. You must always expect change. All I’m doing is falling in line with time now, by recording what’s there.'—Don McCullin


To coincide with the reopening of Sir Don McCullin CBE’s exhibition ‘The Stillness of Life’ at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, the acclaimed photographer will present a special online exhibition of platinum prints. The digital curation echoes McCullin’s continued passion for international travel and the salvation he seeks within the British countryside. Spanning from the 1980s to the present day, the landscape imagery ranges from flooding meadows and expansive local views across Somerset, to the Sonepur Mela Festival along the Ganges in India, and the Northern Arctic in Svalbard Archipelago. For McCullin, the landscape is a living subject. His photography engages the energy of the land—its history, character and expression—recording an intimacy and awareness of the fragile relationship between us and our natural surroundings.

Throughout his career McCullin has found himself on the edge of civilisation looking in, capturing scenes as they unfold with an irresistible intuition, evoking our innermost feelings and rawest state of what it is to feel alive. Undoubtedly conflict and disaster have never left him, having documented almost every major humanitarian disaster of the last half-century, but it is his landscape images that enable him to find solace and create shared moments of peace and stillness with his viewer.

The online presentation will allow a focused insight into McCullin’s platinum printing, a photographic process that delivers an infinite tonal range unattainable in his more conventional gelatin silver prints. Unlike the silver print process, platinum lies on the paper surface and has an ability to draw out and emphasise subtle detail in multiple layers, ideally suited to McCullin’s meditative landscapes that resonate with human emotion. Whilst McCullin is known for developing his own work, in order to create these images he has collaborated with specialist printers of platinum and platinum-palladium prints, 31 Studio based in Stroud, the first of its kind to be set up in the United Kingdom. McCullin says that his platinums are an attempt to bring some balance to his work, and maybe to his memories. ‘This work is therapeutic,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t be happier than when I am standing out on a cold winter morning waiting for the right light. The platinums are the essence. They are as far as you can go with what I am trying to do and say.’

Both the online and physical exhibitions follow McCullin’s major retrospective at Tate Britain, London in Spring 2019, featuring over 250 photographs that celebrate the scope and achievements of his entire career. The survey exhibition is due to travel to Tate Liverpool later this year. In May 2020, The International Center of Photography honoured McCullin with the Lifetime Infinity Award for his longstanding contribution to photography. Founded by Cornell Capa in 1974, The International Center of Photography is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture, based in New York. ‘Don McCullin. The Stillness of Life’ will be on view at Hauser & Wirth Somerset until 6 September 2020.

About the artist

‘When human beings are suffering, they tend to look up, as if hoping for salvation. And that’s when I press the button.’—Don McCullin Photographer Don McCullin has witnessed some of the most harrowing humanitarian disasters of the last half-century, having covered every…

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