After having a pretty heavy week at work and a friend visiting at the weekend, I decided to take a little break from blogging… It’s strange though because I find that the less I blog, the less I feel I have to say and the harder it is to get back into. So I thought to ease myself back in, I’d share these images of Byker which Side Gallery shared on their Facebook last week..
The link was to a NY Times blog post, Byker in Black and White written in anticipation of an exhibition of the collection at the L Parker Stephenson gallery. The photos were taken by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen between 1969 and 1983, some capturing the time just before the majority of the then derelict terraced houses were demolished. When I think of slums, I think of developing countries. And until my dissertation, where I looked at Orwell’s representation of poverty and destitution in Down and Out in Paris and London, and the working classes in The Road to Wigan Pier, I never really related the word to the living conditions of the working class in Britain even just thirty years ago. In some ways though, despite showing an area of relative poverty, the photos capture the spirit of the community. They’re not depressing but they capture the gritty industrial past of the city that is still ingrained in North East culture. The majority of them were taken a stone’s throw away from Studio Precept, so it was really interesting for me and the guys looking through the photos, imagining what the studio’s old surroundings would’ve been like to visit. Most of the images just give the slightest glimpse into everyday life in one of Newcastle’s rougher areas, but they have an almost haunting quality about them that I can’t quite explain. You can find the full gallery of images here on Amber Online.