Initiated with a 1987 Side Gallery commission to document the lives of merchant seamen, the work captured the seamen’s dispute of 1988.
Critchlow had spent many years as a seaman before leaving the industry in 1977. In December 1987, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company tried to impose new working agreements. The resulting dispute spread as other operators and P&O Ferries in particular followed suit. Critchlow wrote: ‘I did not go with the intention of photographing conflict or picket violence – on the rare occasions when this happened, it was wholly due to the volatile nature of the dispute and total lack of sensitivity on the part of the police force, working hand in hand with the company in a media war to sway public opinion away from the cause of the seamen.’