Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen – ‘You Always Reveal Yourself in the Pictures’ | TateShots

Finnish photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen moved to Newcastle in 1969 after attending art college in London she has stayed there ever since working and photographing the city and its people.

Konttinen works both as a photographer and a filmmaker. Her series Byker 1969–81 documents the streets, buildings and primarily the inhabitants of Byker, a working class community in the east side of Newcastle upon Tyne. The Byker series includes a range of portraits, from traditional studio-style images to photographs of groups gathered in moments of leisure.

Until the 1960s it was a working class area of densely built Victorian terrace and slum housing, after which it was redeveloped by the local council, who had condemned the houses as unfit for human habitation. Demolition began in 1966 and the council appointed the architect Ralph Erskine to design its replacement: the now Grade II listed Byker Wall estate, which was constructed between 1969 and 1982. In 1969 Konttinen moved to Byker, where she lived for six years until her house was demolished. She returned over the next decade to continue to document life in the community.

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen in the Tate collection:

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