Newcastle pupils and residents join together to celebrate photographer Tish Murtha and document the west end

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The project captured the spirit of Tish Murtha’s photography.

An intergenerational project aligned with the work of North East photographer Tish Murtha is helping to bring together the community in the west end of Newcastle.

Pupils from St Michael’s Roman Catholic Primary School and residents of Tish Murtha House have teamed up with Ella Murtha- the daughter of the renowned photographer- to capture the spirit of Tish’s work.

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Pupils from St Michael's Roman Catholic Primary School named the residential block Tish Murtha House after the Elswick photographer. It opened last year.Pupils from St Michael's Roman Catholic Primary School named the residential block Tish Murtha House after the Elswick photographer. It opened last year.
Pupils from St Michael's Roman Catholic Primary School named the residential block Tish Murtha House after the Elswick photographer. It opened last year. | Amethyst Homes

The project aims to encourage different generations to integrate through photography. Five pupils from the primary school joined residents of Tish Murtha House and used a polaroid camera to take photos of each other to explore relationships between people and their environment.

The event was organised by Amethyst Homes, which is building 45 new homes at Vallum Heights near the school and photographer’s namesake.

Ella Murtha said: “It has been really special for me to be invited to take part in this project, bringing local children and residents of Tish Murtha House together with a Polaroid camera to build new photographic representations of their community. There is something so magical about holding a print in your hands that you have created, and to see the bonds that were formed in the process was lovely.

“My mam believed that photography was a powerful tool for change through empathy, trust, and connection, and I think she would be thrilled that the kids are taking the camera back to school with them to continue documenting the area as they see it and the growing relationships with their neighbours at Tish Murtha House.”

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Tish Murtha was born in South Shields and grew up in Elswick. She is lauded for the photographs she took of Newcastle’s west end during the 1970s and 80s.

A group of 12 – five pupils from the school, Macda, Daniel, A.J, Alisha and Livinia-Rose, joined residents of Tish Murtha House, Colin Baker, Kevin Bannon, Tom Storey, Susan Storey, Bob Ingham, Joanne Morris and Chris Graham, using a polaroid camera to take images of one another, exploring their interactions.A group of 12 – five pupils from the school, Macda, Daniel, A.J, Alisha and Livinia-Rose, joined residents of Tish Murtha House, Colin Baker, Kevin Bannon, Tom Storey, Susan Storey, Bob Ingham, Joanne Morris and Chris Graham, using a polaroid camera to take images of one another, exploring their interactions.
A group of 12 – five pupils from the school, Macda, Daniel, A.J, Alisha and Livinia-Rose, joined residents of Tish Murtha House, Colin Baker, Kevin Bannon, Tom Storey, Susan Storey, Bob Ingham, Joanne Morris and Chris Graham, using a polaroid camera to take images of one another, exploring their interactions. | Amethyst Homes

A documentary film about Tish’s life and career was released in 2023.

Tish Murtha House resident, Susan Storey, who grew up in Elswick and was childhood friends with Tish, said: “We had a great time and it was a delight to spend time with the schoolchildren. I really enjoyed taking pictures with them, sharing stories about growing up in this area, and hopefully it inspires them to take more pictures of their lives and surroundings. It was a wonderful event.”

The school children commented: “Looking at the photographs showed us that children had more fun outside than we do, but we would love it if we could play out on the street like this.   Taking the photographs with the polaroid camera was great, and the older people were quite funny how they acted (photobombing). We were nervous to start with but when we relaxed, looked at the photographs and used the camera, we got in the mood.   We can't wait to use the camera again - showing our local area and all the lovely things we have around us.”

For more information about Tish Murtha and her work please visit: https://www.tishmurtha.co.uk/home.html

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