Past Exhibition

Knock Three Times

Chris Coekin - 12 April to 18 May 2007

Wednesday 11 April, 7 to 9pm All Welcome | Wine Reception

Knock Three Times is a body of work that speaks about the demise of the working men’s club. It is a collection of photographs by Chris Coekin, made over 10 years, that describes the life and history of the Acomb Working Men's Club in York. It is a personal exploration of the photographer’s own background, upbringing and social identity within a family for whom such clubs have played a significant role.

Knock Three Times balances contemporary pictures of the club and its members; elderly drinkers, darts players and entertainers with a wealth of family and club archive material. Coekin describes the work, which has been also been published as a book, as part work of art; celebrating the leisure time of the working class and part historical document; charting the end of the working men's club movement as a result of dramatic shifts in the world of work over the past 25 years - from a time when jobs were ‘for life’ to the McJob culture of today.

The changing world of work is illustrated by two documents - the retirement certificate issued to Coekin's grandfather Bert Naylor in 1975 after 52 years with British Railways London Midland Region, and the poignant one-liner Coekin's father Barry received in 2001 after 46 years' work from Wigston Dyers Ltd in Leicester. It states: "Please be advised that from today's date we have made you redundant."

In the book’s introduction, David Campany describes how the modern citizen represents a life lived through institutions. One might be born in a hospital, into a family structure, go to school and work in a factory or for the military or in an office. One might be in and out of hospital or prison and so on. Institutions of leisure – cinema, tourism, television, pubs, sports – might be added to this list. Campany ponders the place of the working men’s club between these private and public social institutions.
‘It is a space connected yet distanced from working life on one side and family life on the other. Moreover it has had a double role. It has served as a space both of respite and resistance to conditions of work and family life. Coekin draws on his own experience of the working men’s club as a pivotal space in his life. He weaves it into a broader historical account of the forces that shape such clubs and lives they have shaped in return.’

Chris Coekin was born in Leicester. He worked in the building trade until his early twenties before studying photography. His work has appeared in many magazines including The Guardian, The Observer, The Telegraph, The Times, and Dazed & Confused. The recipient of various awards including a David Hodge Award, his work has been exhibited widely, including the Photographers Gallery, London. He is also a visiting senior lecturer at the University College for the Creative Arts.

To read a review of the work please visit and

Knock Three Times is available to tour.
Please contact Chris Coekin at

Knock Three Times is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.