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Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s photographs explore the ‘terrible beauty of Durham’s coal-scarred coastline. The wreckage of the mining industry that defined a culture and shaped its communities lies strewn across its beaches, discarded ‘memorabilia’ erupting from the plateaux of colliery waste. East Durham is being tidied up, re-landscaped and designed for new pursuits, erasing the memory of coal. These extraordinary images capture a moment in time; the fossils of a deposed industry; a heritage trail of sorrow and wonder.
The photographs, taken between 1999 and 2002, represent Sirkka’s first move into colour, something she felt was demanded by the alarming vividness of the subject. Now, 15 years later, in celebration of Gallery’s 40th anniversary, Side will be revisiting the Coal Coast. It will include an audio visual installation, the result of a cross cultural, international, collaboration, between Amber/Side, creative producers Forma Arts, New York based sound artists, Sō Percussion and ex-miner Freddie Welsh. Completed in 2016, it combines Sō Percussion’s response to Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s ‘Coal Coast’ and Freddie Welsh’s personal testimony of the death of a young miner at Easington pit in the 90s.
More information can be found here.
Photo Credit: © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen