Born in Finland, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen moved in 1969 to the district of Byker in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. For the next seven years, she photographed her neighbors in the working-class district with sensitivity and affection. For her first solo show in a commercial gallery, L. Parker Stephenson Photographs in New York City is exhibiting Konttinen’s classic photos of Byker. In 2003 and 2008, Kontinnen returned to Byker and photographed its new population in color.
Konttinen co-founded Amber, the collective of photographers and filmmakers dedicated to giving voice to marginalized communities in the north of England, which opened Side Gallery in Newcastle in 1977. In 2011, UNESCO recognized Konttinen’s photographs and the Amber Collective’s films as being of “outstanding national value and importance to the United Kingdom,” and five books of Konttinen’s work have been published, yet her work remains little known in the U.S.
She is speaking at the International Center of Photography in New York on February 13, as part of the museum’s Photographers Lecture Series. The exhibition at L. Parker Stephenson opens February 15 and runs through May 11.
“Girl on a ‘Spacehopper,’ 1971.”