Sir Don McCullin was awarded the 2016 Kraszna-Krausz Fellowship
Sir Don McCullin was celebrated with the 2016 Kraszna-Krausz Fellowship Award.
McCullin (born 1935) was raised in impoverished circumstances in Finsbury Park, North London. During the Second World War he was evacuated to Somerset, an area of the country he would return to, and extensively photograph, later in life. As a teenager, McCullin was awarded a scholarship to Hammersmith School of Arts and Crafts but was unable to pursue it due to the death of his father and after which he had to work. His National Service was spent with the RAF as a photographer’s assistant (during the Suez Crisis). He failed the written paper to become a photographer, and instead worked in the darkroom developing rolls of film.
His photographic break came in 1959 when the Observer published a photograph of a group of “hooligans he ran with” who referred to themselves as ‘The Guvnors’. They were involved in a turf war with another north London gang which resulted in the death of a policeman. McCullin has stated that “I started my career…on a note of violence and…for the last sixty years I’ve been involved in nothing but violence.” He has said that he fell into photography almost accidentally, and that if it were not for his picture of “The Guvnors’ being picked up he is doubtful he would have pursued a career in the field.
Over the past six decades McCullin has photographed conflict and its aftermath in Cyprus,Vietnam, Biafra, Northern Ireland, Cambodia, El Salvador and Syria amongst numerous other locations.Although internationally lauded as a war photographer, he has frequently expressed his discomfort with this reputation and the acclaim it has brought him.
McCullin now lives in Somerset. He is still actively photographing, both abroad and at home, where he documents the West Country landscape. “I only like to photograph in the winter to catch this winter light…I’m safe doing landscapes. I don’t have to rely on human beings coming into the picture. All I do is look at the sky when I photograph.”