Tish Murtha – Youth Unemployment
Bluecoat Press 2017
Softcover, 168 pages, 290 x 270 mm
In the 1970s, Britain faced a crisis in its towns and cities. The loss of traditional industries, amongst other factors, had led to increased poverty, poor housing and unemployment but the government’s response under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher was compounding the problems with its regressive welfare policies.
Against this background, a new generation of socially conscious photographers emerged. Tish Murtha was at the forefront of this ‘movement’. One of 10 children from a working class Newcastle inner-city area she was, more than many other photographers, completely at home in the environment she chose to work.
Youth Unemployment—shot in 1981 in Elswick, a deprived area of Newcastle—is a key body of work in British documentary history. Its subject matter was the appalling waste of young people’s lives facing mass unemployment or dead-end manual jobs. Murtha’s closeness to those she photographed—many were family or friends—is apparent in the remarkable series of images in this book.