Elswick Kids: Tish Murtha’s joyful photographs of children playing in 1970s Britain2 min read



All photography courtesy of Ella Murtha. © Tish Murtha

When Tish Murtha sadly died from a brain aneurysm in 2013, she had largely been forgotten by the photographic community. However, in 2017, her key work, Youth Unemployment, was published to universal acclaim and was followed by a major retrospective at London’s Photographers Gallery.

Tish has now been recognised as a social-documentary photographer of the first rank. In the late 1970s, she documented “marginalised communities from the inside” and the anger and frustration evident in Youth Unemployment even reached the House of Commons where her work was raised as a subject of debate. In 2019, for a new generation facing today’s austerity, her work is more relevant than ever.

Elswick Kids is a less strident set of images. They were taken as Tish walked the streets of the working class district of Elswick in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and were never realised as an exhibition in their own right. Today, though, they tell of a time when children had the freedom of the streets to play in and where friendship blossomed against a seemingly harsh background. These photographs, now available in a new book of the same name, have a stark beauty that shines through every page.

Elswick Kids is an essential contribution to our understanding of life in a northern English city in the late twentieth century and cements Tish Murtha’s place in British documentary photography. To find out more about Elswick Kids, published by Bluecoat Press, go to tishmurtha.co.uk.

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha

© Tish Murtha