Esko Männikkö is a photographer whose work often involves his spending time with a community and sharing in their everyday lives.

Altbridge Park is on the edge of Liverpool. It consists of three tower blocks by the side of a dual carriageway. Esko Männikkö’s introduction to Altbridge Park came when he met up with residents at one of their weekly art classes. This meeting involved whisky, ladies and laughter. The art classes don’t usually involve whisky but the women naturally showed hospitality to a visitor from Finland.

Esko Männikkö is a photographer whose work often involves his spending time with a community and sharing in their everyday lives. Subjects of his work have included bachelors in Finland, immigrants in Texas and workers at a cashmere mill in Scotland. He returned to Altbridge Park, Liverpool, to stay in a flat and to photograph the people and the place for his project for International 04. In his proposal for the project Esko noted: ‘probably for the first and last time during my career I will let people smile in my pictures’.

He photographed people as they were busy enjoying community activities; crocheting, exercising or having their hair done. These photographs were mainly of older women, because most of the residents were older women. They have lived in the tower block since it was first built having been rehoused in the 1960’s and in the pictures the women weren’t just smiling, they were laughing. The photographs showed that living in the tower block was not necessarily the depressing experience that people may think it is.

The subject of Esko’s Photographs is not so much the place as what is happening to the place. He photographed deserted flats (two thirds of the flats at Altbridge Park were empty at this time). In these flats we got to see the things that had been left behind. He also photographed nearby buildings which were being knocked down or were falling down. The view from the flats’ window showed some of what was to come: a plot of land where another tower block once stood. The views from the windows, the feeling of safety and the close-knit community were all part of what the residents love about high-rise living.

The installation of photographs at the Tate Liverpool further emphasized the contrast between the people and the place. The portraits had colourful hand-made frames and a ‘home sweet home’ feeling that showed care and affection.

Altbridge Park was demolished in 2005.

Organised Freedom: Liverpool Edition, 2004
Photograph series
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool



FRAME (Finnish Fund for Art Exchange)
The Finnish Institute, London
Finnish Embassy, London