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True Grit Exhibition Information

True Grit Exhibition Information

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Published by Kerry Side-Gallery
True / Grit Exhibition texts

01/06/2013 - 03/08/13
True / Grit Exhibition texts

01/06/2013 - 03/08/13

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Kerry Side-Gallery on Jun 01, 2013
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When old age shall this generation waste,Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woeThan ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is allYe know on earth, and all ye need to know. Ode on a Grecian Urn, John Keats
TISH MURTHA
The photographs of Tish Murtha were always going to be part of True/Grit. Her images deserve to befar better known. One of a number of great documentary photographers who gathered around Side
Gallery and the Amber collective in the late 1970s and the 1980s, her work is lled with argument,
anger, self-awareness and humour. The sense of its complexity has grown each time the galleryhas revisited it over the years. Plans for True/Grit were already advanced when she died in April.Side decided to celebrate her extraordinary talent by devoting the downstairs space to work from thethree of her exhibitions represented in its collection.Tish became a photographer as a teenager living in Elswick. She studied documentary at Newportin Wales and came back to Newcastle. Side commissioned her to document the campaign to savethe Vickers Scotswood Works, which closed in 1979. Juvenile Jazz Bands, which was shown atSide Gallery that same year, upset some, particularly for its documentation of young people castout of from the jazz band world for bad behaviour, but still playing the routines. Tish worked onYouth Unemployment (1981) while herself employed at the Side Gallery on a job scheme for theunemployed. She photographed members of her own family and their friends on the streets ofElswick. The rubble and the buildings being demolished in some of the images are the Noble Street
ats, which had replaced streets documented by Jimmy Forsyth only twenty years earlier.
As part of True/Grit, this small celebration is a tribute to a photographer and a friend of Side who isdeeply missed.
GALLERY
TRUE/GRIT
 A CELEBRATION OF NORTHERN REALISMPhotographs from the Side collection01/06/13 - 03/08/13
Gritty (gri-ti), a. 1598 [f. GRIT sb. + -y.] 1. Of the nature of orresembling grit; containing, consisting of, or full of grit; sandy.
2. Full of or containing minute hard particles; also g. of
literary style, with allusion to the quality of gritty bread 1882.
3. U.S. colloq. Having grit... Firmness or solidity of character;
indomitable pluck or spirit; stamina 1825.Oxford English Dictionary
 
GRIT AND BEAUTY
The idea for this exhibition originated in a slide show prepared for a debate on the North East andculture at Newcastle’s Northern Stage. It presented a selection from documentary exhibitions byvarious photographers associated with the Amber collective and Side Gallery over more than 40years. A writer for the Guardian, sitting on the other side of the debate, asked: ‘Why is it alwaysraining? Why does the sun never shine? Why do they not photograph the beauty of the NorthEast?’ In one sense, the answers were easy: ‘It isn’t raining in most images. The sun does shine.They celebrate beauty in working class and marginalised people’s everyday lives, landscapes andstruggles. They are, themselves, beautiful.’ And the journalist had the grace to accept that this wastrue. But the simplicity of the answers masked the complexity of the questions around how both theNorth and working class/marginalised experience are represented.
Amber lmmakers take pains to nd the most beautiful locations, only to have the work reduced by
some critic as ‘another piece of northern gritty realism.’ Most of the photographers in this exhibitionhave had similar reactions. The term is usually used as a way of dismissing the work – so that noone should have to go to the trouble of really looking at the work. This exhibition is an invitation toexplore the complexity of the individual images and the richness of a documentary tradition in thisregion that has captured its experiences of extraordinary change with love, with a commitment to
exploring the difculties of truthfulness and with great artistry. The photographs are, each, from
bodies of work exploring their chosen territories with even greater levels of captured ambiguity.The exhibitions can be deeply personal. They often grow from a rich understanding of responsibilityto the documented. But they are also often engaged in an argument with a sense of the country’smetropolitan centre. In different ways this is something that has happened throughout the history ofphotography: the North as the ‘other’; an honesty contrasted with sophistication and lies. It found anew intensity, however, in the response to the recession of the 1970s. This only increased as theeffects of a policy of deindustrialisation were documented. Capturing the on-going impacts of aneconomic vision that has been one of the legacies of the Thatcher era, northern documentary hasforefronted the realities of what is often glibly presented as necessary cost.
SIDE GALLERY | 9 SIDE | NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE | NE1 3JE | 0191 232 2208 | WWW.AMBER-ONLINE.COM
www.facebook.com/SideGallerywww.twitter.com/SideGalleryMailing list: http://eepurl.com/mpEjz
Join us on:
True/Grit is part of the Festival of the North East
 
EXHIBITION NOTES
ENTRANCE
JUNGLE PORTRAITS Isabella Jedrzejczyk, 1981
Amber’s lmmakers & photographers frequented The Jungle on North Shields Fish Quay in the
1970s and early 1980s. It had a colourful reputation, locals mixing with visiting seamen. Sirkka-LiisaKonttinen also developed a set of portraits.
DOWNSTAIRS GALLERY
SAVE SCOTSWOOD WORKS Tish Murtha, 1979
Amber’s documentation of the Save Scotswood Works campaign became part of its lm Tyne Lives
(1980). Tish Murtha documented the campaign in parallel.
JUVENILE JAZZ BANDS Tish Murtha, 1979
Juvenile jazz bands were hugely popular in the North East in the 1970s/80s. Tish caused controversywith her focus as much on those excluded as those in the uniforms.
YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT Tish Murtha, 1981
Tish was employed at Side Gallery on a Manpower Services Commission job creation scheme whenshe developed this extraordinary body of work, photographing members of her family and theirfriends on the streets of Elswick.
UPSTAIRS GALLERY
SURVIVAL PROGRAMMES: IN BRITAIN’S INNER CITIES Exit Photography Group, 1982
Exit (Paul Trevor, Chris Steele-Perkins, Nick Battye) developed Survival Programmes between 1974and 1979, documenting experience in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Middlesbrough,Glasgow and Belfast. The photographs from the North East were by Chris Steele-Perkins. SideGallery brought New York printer Sid Kaplan over to print the work for the exhibition.
TYNESIDE Ian Berry, 1978
The box in the Side Collection says Tyneside, but other North East images are included. The work,which may have been shown as part of Northern View in 1978, is included in Berry’s book TheEnglish, published in that year.
RIVER PROJECT Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Graham Smith, 1974
This early Amber touring project also included work by Amber Films, photographer and sculptor
Laurie Wheatley, writers Tom Pickard and Rodney Pybus and German artist Peter Engel. The
difculty in nding a venue for it in Newcastle was part of the logic that led to Amber opening Side
Gallery in 1977.

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