Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, 'Young Couple in a Backyard (Byker)' 1975, printed 2012
Tate Modern

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Switch House Level 4 West
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Young Couple in a Backyard (Byker) 1975, printed 2012, Tate. © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Examine the sometimes intimate record of an inner city community destined for demolition

Byker was an estate of nineteenth-century terraced houses, located in Newcastle upon Tyne, in north east England. Finnish-born artist Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen arrived there in 1969 when the area was already destined for demolition to make way for a new purpose-built estate. Despite this, Konttinen was drawn to the humour, vibrancy and resilience of the residents and decided to make it her home, living in the area until her own house was demolished. The Byker series contains a variety of photographs taken over twelve years, from images captured spontaneously on the street, to intimate views into the homes of the people of Byker.

Living Cities is presented in The George Economou Gallery.

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, 'Jimmy Dodds, Albion Row Allotments (Byker)' 1980, printed 2014
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Jimmy Dodds, Albion Row Allotments (Byker) 1980, printed 2014
Tate
© Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, 'Young Couple in a Backyard (Byker)' 1975, printed 2012
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Young Couple in a Backyard (Byker) 1975, printed 2012
Tate
© Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, 'Byker Park Dominoes Club (Byker)' 1974, printed 2012
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Byker Park Dominoes Club (Byker) 1974, printed 2012
Tate
© Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, 'Making-up in Mason Street (Byker)' 1971, printed 2012
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Making-up in Mason Street (Byker) 1971, printed 2012
Tate
© Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, 'Carville Road at Night (Byker)' 1971, printed 2012
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Carville Road at Night (Byker) 1971, printed 2012
Tate
© Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

At one point Konttinen set up a portrait studio in a disused hairdressing salon, offering free portraits to local residents. Her continued engagement with the local community helped her to gain their trust. She has said,

Being a foreigner gave me one advantage: I could be nosey, and be forgiven. Many doors were opened for me that would have remained closed to another photographer, and invitations extended to the kind of hospitality and intimacy that would normally be reserved for family only.

In 1969, Konttinen helped to found the Amber Film and Photography Collective. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, their objective is to establish a creative relationship with local communities and to document working class life in the region. Konttinen is still active in the group today.

Curated by Ann Coxon and Shoair Mavlian.

Venue

Tate Modern
Bankside
London
SE1 9TG
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Art in this room

Artwork

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen Jean Barron with Parents (Byker)

1980, printed 2012
Artwork

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen Dogs Hairdressing, Shields Road (Byker)

1981, printed 2014
Artwork

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen Living Room Wall of Sidney Aubrey (Byker)

1975, printed 2014
Artwork

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen Byker Park Dominoes Club (Byker)

1974, printed 2012

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