Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

August 13, 2011

Konttinen is a Finnish-born photographer, best known for her documentation of the terraced working class communities of Byker in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the late 60s and early 70s.

Mrs Potter, Mason Street, 1975

The project came to an end when the area was finally bulldozed in the late 70s to make way for the Byker Wall and other architectural revulsions passed off as housing developments.

Kendal Street, 1969

The photos were eventually turned into a book, but many can be found online courtesy of the Amber Collective, which Konttinen co-founded.

Young couple in a backyard on a summer's day, 1975

In Byker Revisited (2003), Konttinen returned to photograph its residents in colour.

Jimmy Dodds, Walker Road, June 1980

She just seems to be one of those tremendously gifted photographers able to draw honesty from the ceremony of photography. I watched a documentary about her return to Byker, and she just had that instinctive knack for whittling the whiles of people away, for making them comfortable, and for drawing them away from the camera and back into themselves.

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