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Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen: Byker

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is a Finnish-born photographer and film maker as well as a founder member of the Amber Film & Photography Collective and the Side Photographic Gallery based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Byker is a working-class district in Newcastle upon Tyne. Home to the Byker Wall estate, it was given prominence by the TV series Byker Grove. It was extensively photographed before its demolition, primarily by Konttinen who lived there from the late 1960s. Her striking, unforgettable black-and-white images are an invaluable record of that pre-development era. According to the Morning Star:

"Her keen eye and empathetic approach gives her images a riveting, iconic quality. She captures the humanity, the solidarity and strong sense of community that characterised this area, neglected, like so many others in the north, by consecutive central governments."

A newly revised and expanded Byker, a collection of these photographs, was published this year by Dewi Lewis Publishing.


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