Sirka Liisa Konttinen's work on Byker was one of my early inspirations for community photography.
Sirkka spent over a decade in the sixties ans seventies documenting Byker as it fell under the redeveloper's hammer. The planner's dream, the people's nightmare. Like much of the redevelopments of the sixties and seventies it was the destruction not only of homes but of working class culture and close relationships which were never re-established in the schemes that replaced the so-called slums. At the end of the carnage part of the spirit of the place had gone and less than one fifth of the original inhabitants remained.
Throughout the book the people of Byker speak for themselves, in anecdotes, reminiscences, fragments of conversations often illustrating the complexity of human relationships. In her poetic, intimate introduction to the book Sirkka Liisa Konttinen draws the reader into what was a very personal experience which nevertheless makes broad political statements about the nature of the society we live in. You can buy it on Amazon and read reviews at: