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Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is a Finnish photographer who has worked in Britain since the 1960s.[1]


  • Life and work 1
  • Exhibitions 2
  • Awards and recognition 3
  • Books 4
  • Notes 5
  • External links 6

Life and work

Born in Myllykoski, municipality of Sippola (from 1975 part of the town of Anjalankoski, from 2009 part of the town of Kouvola), Finland in 1948, Konttinen studied photography in London in the 1960s, and cofounded the Amber collective, which moved to Newcastle.

From 1969 Konttinen lived in Byker, and for seven years photographed and interviewed the residents of this area of terraced houses until her own house was demolished.[2] She continued to work there for some time afterwards. This resulted in the book Byker,[3] which in David Alan Mellor's words "bore witness to her intimate embeddedness in the locality".[4] In 1980 she became the first photographer since the Cultural Revolution to have her work exhibited by the British Council in China.[4]

Konttinen's next project was a study of girls attending dance schools in North Shields, their mothers, and the schools. The book Step by Step came from this.[3]

Three years of photographing the beach between Seaham and Hartlepool resulted in the series "Coal Coast".[5]

Konttinen later returned to Byker and photographed its new residents in color.[6] She is represented by L. Parker Stephenson Photographs.[7]


  • "Documents of the North East" (with Graham Smith, James Cleet, and Robert Carling). Side Gallery (Newcastle), 1977.[8]
  • "Photographs from the Beaches" (with Markéta Luskačová). Side Gallery (Newcastle), 1978.[8]
  • "North Tyneside" (with Isabella Jedrzejczyk, Markéta Luskačová and Graham Smith). Side Gallery (Newcastle), 1981.[8]
  • "Byker". Side Gallery (Newcastle), 1983.[8]
  • "Cedarwood Woman". Side Gallery (Newcastle), 1988.[8]
  • "Step by Step". Side Gallery (Newcastle), 1989; touring, 1990, 1992.[8]
  • "The Writing in the Sand". Side Gallery (Newcastle), 1991; touring 1993.[8]
  • "Dream On" (with Steve Conlan and Richard Grassick). Side Gallery (Newcastle), 1992.[8]
  • "My Finnish Roots". Side Gallery (Newcastle) and touring, 1993, 1994.[8]
  • "Quayside" (with Graham Smith). Side Gallery (Newcastle) and touring, 1993.[8]
  • "Writing in the Sand". Side Gallery (Newcastle), 2000.[9]
  • "Coalfield Stories" (group). Side Gallery (Newcastle), 2002–2003.[10]
  • "Coal Coast". Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), 2003.[5]
  • "Coalfield Stories" (with John Davies and Simon Norfolk). Photofusion, London, 2005–2006.[11]
  • "Byker Revisited". Side Gallery (Newcastle), 2009.[12]
  • "Byker." L. Parker Stephenson Photographs (New York), 2013.[13]

Awards and recognition


  • Byker. London: Jonathan Cape, 1983. ISBN 0-224-02109-5. Newcastle: Bloodaxe Books, 1985. ISBN 0-906427-90-8.
  • Step by Step. Newcastle: Bloodaxe Books, 1989. ISBN 1-85224-059-8.
  • Writing in the Sand: On the Beaches of North East England. Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2001. ISBN 1-899235-97-3.
    • Écrit dans le sable: sur les plages du Nord-Est de l'Angleterre. Paris: Schultz, 2000. ISBN 91-87370-30-1. (French)
    • Skrivet i sanden: på sandstränderna i nordöstra England. Stockholm: Schultz Forlag, 2000. ISBN 91-87370-26-3. (Swedish)
    • Hiekkaan kirjoitettu: Koillis-Englannin rannoilla. Oulu: Kustantamo Pohjoinen, 2000. ISBN 951-749-340-1. (Finnish)
  • The Coal Coast. Newcastle: Amberside, 2003. ISBN 0-9512058-1-1.
  • Byker Revisited. Newcastle: Northumberland University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-904794-42-4.


  1. ^ Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen (ed. Andrew Pulver), "Photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen's best shot", The Guardian, 12 August 2009. Accessed 19 February 2010.
  2. ^ , February 7, 2013The New York Times"Byker in Black and White,"
  3. ^ a b "Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen", Amber Online. Accessed 19 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b David Alan Mellor, No Such Thing as Society: Photography in Britain 1967–1987: From the British Council and the Arts Council Collection (London: Hayward Publishing, 2007; ISBN 978-1-85332-265-5), p.84.
  5. ^ a b Richard Moss, "Coal Coast: Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen Photos at the Baltic", Accessed 20 February 2010.
  6. ^ , February 8, 2013The New York Times"Bringing Color to Newcastle,"
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Side Gallery Exhibitions 1977–1994", Amber Online. Accessed 19 February 2010.
  9. ^ 2000 exhibitions, Amber Online. Accessed 20 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Coalfield Stories", Amber Online. Accessed 20 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Coalfield Stories" Photofusion, 2005. "Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen – Exhibitions", Both accessed 21 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Byker Revisited", Reinventing the City. Accessed 21 February 2010.
  13. ^ Konttinen at L. Parker Stephenson Photographs
  14. ^ a b "The Writing in the Sand", Dfgdocs. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  15. ^ "2011 UK Memory of the World Register", United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO.
  16. ^ ICP Photographers Lecture Series

External links

  • Amber Online – the Amber Collective website.
  • L. Parker Stephenson Photographs
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