The photo show exploring youth over the last 40 years

From young fisherman in the 80s to the pandemic school leavers missing out on prom, a new exhibition examines the multifaceted nature of young people’s experiences in the UK over the last four decades

A new photography exhibition at Side Gallery in Newcastle brings together wide-ranging representations of young people in the UK from 1981 to 2021 as they edge ever closer towards adulthood.

Earlier perspectives come from documentary photographers Chris Killip and Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, whose various works along the northern coastlines sit in dialogue with contemporary images made around the country.

Top: from Writing in the Sand © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, courtesy AmberSide and L Parker Stephenson Photographs. Above: Mrs Hartely’s class five, Yarlside Primary, 2019 © Vanessa Winship
Jack from the series Lost Summer, 2020 © Alys Tomlinson and HackelBury Fine Art

Vanessa Winship and Alys Tomlinson each shine a light on young people’s experiences of school during the pandemic, between them contributing portraits of year 5 students in Cumbria, and would-be prom attendees dressed in their formal attire despite being robbed of the occasion itself.

The exhibition toes the line between energy and stillness that young people themselves often wrestle with. It’s a contrast encapsulated in Tom Sussex’s portraits of young campaigners and Black Lives Matter protesters photographed last summer, where the immediacy and energy of the crowds are presented alongside quiet, pensive portraits.

US Embassy from the series Solidarity, 2020 © Tom Sussex
Olivia, from the series Solidarity, 2021 © Tom Sussex

Maryam Wahid’s photographs trace her mother’s experience of arriving in Birmingham at the age of 18 by recreating archival portraits with Wahid wearing her mother’s clothes, while Sadie Catt’s long-term project explores a young person’s experience and handling of grief following the death of her mother and sister.

“Photographs are a critical platform through which young people can be seen, heard and remembered,” says the exhibition’s curator Liz Hingley. “The photographers in the exhibition tenderly document the awkward, surprising and passionate period of maturation into adulthood, that resonates across generations but is at once unique to each.”

Alice from the series Of Quiet Birds, 2018 © Sadie Catt
South Shields Emmaus companion, Michael, 2019 © Paul Alexander Knox, commissioned by AmberSide and the Virgin Money Foundation
From Writing in the Sand © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, courtesy AmberSide and L Parker Stephenson Photographs
Alice from the series Of Quiet Birds, 2018 © Sadie Catt

Youth Rising in the UK, 1981-2021 runs at Side Gallery, Newcastle from July 17 until October 3; amber-online.com/side-gallery

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes