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 1970s, 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.