Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen - Byker Revisited
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen has returned to Byker, the area of Newcastle upon Tyne that was the subject of her first book, Byker. With photographs and stories from the years Sirkka lived there in the 1970’s, her first book gave voice to Byker’s working-class community, which was uprooted for the area’s redevelopment. The subsequent Byker Wall housing scheme, by its renowned architect Ralph Erskine, has become venerated and maligned in equal measure as a unique experimentation in social housing and architecture, world wide.
In Byker Revisited Sirkka invites the residents of the new Byker to imagine themselves in just one picture. Many are immigrants and asylum seekers from distant regions of the globe, who find themselves next door to a perplexing cultural diversity of local origin. Through her portraits, Sirkka draws together singular lives into a virtual community, interweaving it with the community that was lost in the name of progress.
“Byker Revisited, a really stunning book of the Amber Collective artist Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s photographs, has just come out from Northumbria University Press, full of works taken from the late 1960s until now, of people and places in Newcastle’s Byker neighbourhood. The way it details how we lived and how we live; the passing of time and what changes and what doesn’t; and the sheer human warmth of it, makes it the kind of book you want to give to everyone you know.”
Ali Smith, author, Scotland on Sunday
“The pathos and humour, ugliness and beauty, the casual and the formal of Byker Revisited, all conspire to reveal a world where we do not conform, where we do not have to simply be one thing, where life is complex and contradictory. That Sirkka has found this in this new book as clearly as she did in the old is why she is a brilliant artist.”
Lee Hall, playwright and screenwriter, writer of ‘Billy Elliot’ and ‘The Pitmen Painters’.
“Byker Revisited is a collection of intimate portraits asking us to ‘imagine, if you were to put your life in just one picture, what would you have in it?’ The images tell colourful, moving and honest stories of lives, fully lived, hidden, inside an urban flux”.
Natasha Marks, Narc. Magazine.
“Expect a brilliantly honest and intricate gaze into the very heart of Byker, and the sometimes wonderful, always enthralling inhabitants that reside within it.”
JB, The Crack
“Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is a photographer of immense sympathy and subtlety. Her pictures are never merely stylish or beautiful, though they’re usually both; her power lies in the giving over of power to the people she represents in these pictures, while retaining a formal view. There’s wit, fascination and depth in this book; an impression only strengthened by the text that accompanies the pictures. As a portrait of complexity in the England of today, this is a jewel.”
R. B. Hyams
“Many of the most successful photobooks about Englishness or Britishness are those that examine a community or locality in detail, often through the close links that the photographer has with the area. Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s Byker Revisited is a fine example.”
Peter Hamilton, The British Journal of Photography
Hardback – 184 pages
Northumbria Press; ISBN : 1-90479-442-4