Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen: Photographs of Byker, 1969-1980

25 Feb - 25 Mar 2022

Michael Hoppen Gallery is delighted to present, for the first time in our new space, a selection of works from Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen's seminal body of work and photo book Byker, taken between 1969 and 1978. 


Konttinen came upon the area Byker by chance, and immediately fell in love with it. This marked the beginning of her relationship with the local community there and the seminal photographs that she produced documenting local life over the next seven years. She was drawn to the laughter, the children playing in the streets, the energy. For her, this blue-collar district of Newcastle brimmed with life as it teetered on the brink of a huge cultural shift, a period when the shipyard industry collapsed and developers had eyes on the area for new housing schemes.


Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is a FInnish photographer who has lived and worked in Britain since the 1960s. She was born in Finland in 1948 and came to study film in London in the 1960s, at the polytechnic in Regent Street. Together with some of her peers she founded the Amber Film and Photography Collective, with the purpose of creating and collecting work to represent marginalised communities and their disappearing landscapes. The group decided to move to Newcastle in 1969, to live and work in an industrial, working-class community. “We felt that the working class were not represented and if anything, were parodied rather than given a genuine voice,” Konttinen said.




Konttinen's work will be also be on display in Tate Britain's Spotlight exhibition After Industry: Communities in Northern England 1960s-1980s running till October 30th, 2022.