Hong Kong Parr
by Martin Parr
London: Gost, 2014. Glossy softcover limited edition photography book--a great collection .
Martin Parr (born 23 May 1952) is a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. He is known for his photographic projects that take an intimate, satirical and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting the social classes of England, and more broadly the wealth of the Western world. His major projects have been rural communities (1975–82), The Last Resort (1983–85), The Cost of Living (1987–89), Small World (1987–94) and Common Sense (1995–99).
Since 1994, Parr has been a member of Magnum Photos. He has had around 40 solo photobooks published, and has featured in around 80 exhibitions worldwide – including the international touring exhibition ParrWorld, and a retrospective at the Barbican Arts Centre, London, in 2002.
Born in Epsom, Surrey, Parr wanted to become a documentary photographer from the age of fourteen. He cites his grandfather, George Parr, an amateur photographer and fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, as an early influence.:13,14 He married Susan Mitchell and they have one child, Ellen Parr (born 1986).
Parr has said of his photography:
The fundamental thing I'm exploring constantly is the difference between the mythology of the place and the reality of it.:57 ... Remember I make serious photographs disguised as entertainment. That's part of my mantra. I make the pictures acceptable in order to find the audience but deep down there is actually a lot going on that's not sharply written in your face. If you want to read it you can read it.:69,70
Parr's aesthetic is close-up, through use of a macro lens, and employing saturated colour, a result of either the type of film and/or use of a ring flash. This allows him to put his subjects "under the microscope" in their own environment, giving them space to expose their lives and values in ways that often involve inadvertent humour. His technique, as seen in his book Signs of the Times: A Portrait of the Nation's Tastes (1992), has been said to leave viewers with ambiguous emotional reactions, unsure whether to laugh or cry.
Manchester Polytechnic, 1970–1973
Parr studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic from 1970 to 1973 with contemporaries Daniel Meadows and Brian Griffin.:24 Parr and Meadows collaborated on various projects,:14 including working at Butlin's as roving photographers. They were part of a new wave of documentary photographers, "a loose British grouping, which, though it never gave itself a title have become variously known as 'the Young British Photographers', 'Independent Photographers' and the 'New British Photography'.":49,50:17
Rural communities, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Ireland, 1975–1982
In 1975 Parr moved to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire:23 where he would complete his first mature work. He was involved with the Albert Street Workshop, a hub for artistic activity which included a darkroom and exhibition space. Parr spent five years photographing rural life in the area, focusing on the Methodist (and some Baptist) non-conformist chapels, a focal point for isolated farming communities that in the early 1970s were closing down. He photographed in black-and-white, for its nostalgic nature and for it being appropriate to his celebratory look at this past activity. Also, photographers at that time were obliged to work in black-and-white in order to be taken seriously, colour being associated with commercial and snapshot photography. His series The Non-Conformists was widely exhibited at the time and published as a book in 2013. Critic Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian, said "It's easy to forget how quietly observational Parr was as a black-and-white photographer."
In 1980 Parr married Susan Mitchell and, for her work, they moved to the west coast of Ireland. He set up a darkroom in Boyle, County Roscommon.
Parr's first publications, Bad Weather, published in 1982 by Zwemmer with an Arts Council subsidy, Calderdale Photographs (1984) and A Fair Day: Photographs from the West Coast of Ireland (1984), all featured photographs from mostly northern England, and Ireland, in black-and-white. He used a Leica M3 with a 35 mm lens; although for Bad Weather he quickly switched to an underwater camera with a flashgun.
The working class, The Last Resort, 1982–1985
In 1982 Parr and his wife moved to Wallasey, England, and he switched permanently to colour photography, inspired by the work of US colour photographers, mostly Joel Meyerowitz, but also William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, and also the British Peter Fraser and Peter Mitchell.:31 Parr has written that "I had also encountered the post cards of John Hinde when I worked at Butlin's in the early 70’s and the bright saturated colour of these had a big impact on me." During the summers of 1983, 1984 and 1985:35–36 he photographed working-class people at the seaside in nearby New Brighton. This work was published in the book The Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton (1986) and exhibited in Liverpool and London.
It is difficult from a perspective of almost a quarter of a century to underestimate [sic] the significance of The Last Resort, either in British photography or Martin Parr's career. For both, it represented a seismic change in the basic mode of photographic expression, from monochrome to colour, a fundamental technical change that heralded the development of a new tone in documentary photography.
Karen Wright, writing in The Independent, has said "He was attacked by some critics for his scrutiny of the working classes, but looking at these works, one merely sees Parr's unflinching eye capturing the truth of a social class embracing leisure in whatever form available."
The middle class, The Cost of Living (1987–1989)
In 1985 Parr completed a commission for the Documentary Photography Archive in Manchester to photograph people at supermarkets in Salford, Retailing in the Borough of Salford, which is now held at the archive.
He and his wife moved to Bristol in 1987, where they still live. During 1987 and 1988 he completed his next major project, on the middle class, who were at that time becoming increasingly affluent under Thatcherism. He photographed middle-class activities such as shopping, dinner parties and school open days, predominantly around Bristol and Bath:42 in the southwest of England. It was published as his next book The Cost of Living (1989) and exhibited in Bath, London, Oxford and Paris.
His book One Day Trip (1989) featured photographs taken when he accompanied people on a booze cruise to France, a commission from Mission Photographique Transmanche.
Mass tourism, Small World (1987–1994)
Between 1987 and 1994 Parr travelled internationally to make his next major series, a critique of mass tourism,[n 1] published as Small World in 1995. A revised edition with additional photographs was published in 2007. It was exhibited in 1995–1996 in London, Paris, Edinburgh, and Palma in Spain and has continued to be shown in various locations since.
Global consumerism, Common Sense (1995–1999)
Between 1995 and 1999 Parr made the series Common Sense about global consumerism. Common Sense was an exhibition of 350 prints, and a book published in 1999 with 158 images. The exhibition was first shown in 1999 and was staged simultaneously in forty-one venues in seventeen countries. The pictures depict the minutiae of consumer culture, and are intended to show the ways in which people entertain themselves. The photographs were taken with 35 mm ultra-saturated film for its vivid, heightened colours.
Parr joined Magnum Photos as an associate member in 1988. The vote on his inclusion as a full member in 1994 was divisive, with Philip Jones Griffiths circulating a plea to other members not to admit him. Parr achieved the necessary two-thirds majority by one vote. Magnum membership helped him work on editorial photography, and on editorial fashion photography for Paul Smith, Louis Vuitton, Galerie du jour Agnès B. and Madame Figaro.:60–61
In 2014 Parr was voted in as president of Magnum Photos International.
Parr is a collector and critic of photobooks. His collaboration with the critic Gerry Badger, The Photobook: A History (in three volumes) covers more than 1,000 examples of photobooks from the 19th century through to the present day. The first two volumes took eight years to complete. Tate Modern's retrospective exhibition of Daido Moriyama in London included many Moriyama books loaned from Parr displayed in vitrines.
Parr also collects postcards, photographs and various other items of vernacular and popular culture such as wallpaper, Saddam Hussein watches and prostitute advertising cards from phoneboxes (items with a photograph on them). Here too, items from his collections have been used as the basis for publications and exhibitions. Since the 1970s, Parr has collected and publicised the garish postcards made between the 1950s and 1970s by John Hinde and his team of photographers.
Parr was guest artistic director for the 2004 Rencontres d'Arles festival of photography, guest curator of the New Typologies exhibition at the 2008 New York Photo Festival, and guest curator of Brighton Photo Biennial in 2010, which he called New Documents. Critic Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian, said "Back in 2004, he was invited by the organisers of the annual Rencontres D'Arles to be guest curator. That year's Arles festival, in its range and ambition, remains the standard by which all subsequent Rencontres have been judged."
Film and television
Parr has been involved in making television, and documentary and other films.
From 1990–92 Parr collaborated with Nick Barker, taking photographs to accompany Barker's film Signs of the Times.
In 1997, Parr began producing his own television documentaries with Mosaic Film.
In 2003 Parr was the subject of and appeared extensively in the Imagine BBC One TV series episode The World According to Parr, directed and produced by Rebecca Frayn, and hosted and executive produced by Alan Yentob.
In 2007 Parr took part in BBC Four's The Genius of Photography, a six-part documentary series exploring the history of photography. In 2008 he was one of three judges on the Channel 4 series Picture This.
In 2014 Parr created "Turkey and Tinsel", a 60 minute deadpan and often hilarious observational video documentary about faux Christmas in small town England.
The German photographic curator Thomas Weski has said:
Martin Parr is a chronicler of our age... Leisure, consumption and communication are the concepts that this British photographer has been researching for several decades now on his worldwide travels... Parr enables us to see things that have seemed familiar to us in a completely new way.
Dan Rule, writing in The Age, has said:
Parr's signature is his ability not only to isolate the most evocative of human details, but to elevate such visual fragments to that of the wider societal signpost or glyph.
- London: Zwemmer, 1982. ISBN 0-302-99996-5. With 54 numbered but uncaptioned black and white plates, and texts by Michael Fish and Peter Turner, and an afterword, "Thoughts on Bad Weather", based on a conversation of Parr with Turner and Heather Forbes.
- Books on Books 17. New York, NY: Errata Editions, 2014. ISBN 978-1-935004-33-2. Essays by Thomas Weski, "Even the Queen gets wet"; Peter Turner; and Jeffrey Ladd.
- Calderdale Photographs. [Leeds, Yorkshire]: Calderdale Museums Services, 1984. OCLC 441700642. A 12-page catalogue, carrying the explanation "Prepared as a record of Martin Parr's work in the Calder Valley between 1974 and 1980, and to link with the exhibition of his photographs held at Piece Hall Art Gallery, Halifax from 14 January to 19 February 1984."
- A Fair Day: Photographs from the West Coast of Ireland. Wallasey: Promenade, 1984. ISBN 0-907797-10-5. Published to accompany a touring exhibition, text by Fintan O'Toole.
- Prescot: Now and Then. Prescot, Merseyside: Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley Leisure Services Department, 1984. ISBN 0947739009. Catalogue created by the Prescot Museum.
The Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton.
- Wallasey, Merseyside: Promenade Press, 1986. ISBN 0951141406.
- Stockport, Cheshire: Dewi Lewis, 1998. ISBN 1899235167.
- Stockport, Cheshire: Dewi Lewis, 2009. ISBN 1904587798.
- The Last Resort. Fotografien von New Brighton. Heidelberg: Kehrer, 2009. ISBN 3868281053. German-language version.
- The Last Resort: Photographies de New Brighton. Marseille: Images en Manœuvres, 2009. ISBN 2849951544. French-language version.
- The Cost of Living. Manchester: Cornerhouse, 1989. ISBN 0-948797-55-X. New York: Aperture, 1991. ISBN 0-89381-439-3. Text by Robert Chesshyre.
- One Day Trip = Voyage d'un jour. Mission photographique transmanche, cahier 5. Paris: Editions de la Différence; Pas-de-Calais: Centre régional de la photographie Nord-Pas-de-Calais, 1989. ISBN 2-904538-19-4. Bilingual (French and English); text by Robert Chesshyre.
Signs of the Times: A Portrait of the Nation's Tastes. Manchester: Cornerhouse, 1992. ISBN 0948797916. Text by Nicholas Barker, from a BBC television series.
- Signes des temps. Paris: Textuel, 2006. ISBN 2845972032. French-language version.
- L'Ennui à deux = Bored Couples. Paris: Galerie du jour Agnès B., 1993. OCLC 864184535. Catalogue of an exhibition held at Galerie du jour Agnès B.; text in French and English.
- Home and Abroad.
- From A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring. London: BBC Books, 1994. ISBN 0-563-36984-1.
- Small World: A global photographic project 1987–1994. Stockport, Cheshire: Dewi Lewis, 1995. ISBN 1-899235-05-1. Introduction by Simon Winchester.
- Small World: Photographie-Projekt, 1987–1994. Heidelberg: Braus, 1995. ISBN 3894661364. German-language version. Introduction by Simon Winchester.
- Quel monde! Paris: Marval, 1995. OCLC 40327904. French-language version. Introduction by Roland Topor.
- Les Itinéraires culturels. L'Europe en bref. Geneva: Centre européen de la culture; [Arles]: Actes sud, 1997. ISBN 2742715894. Extracts from Small World, French text by Michel Thomas-Penette.
- Small World. Rome: Peliti Associati, 2005. ISBN 8885121330. Italian-language version.
- Small World: A global photographic project 1987–1994. Stockport, Cheshire: Dewi Lewis, 2007. Revised edition. ISBN 978-1-904587-40-8. Introduction by Geoff Dyer.
- Petite planète. Paris: Hoëbeke, 2008. ISBN 2842303199. French-language version.
- [Food] / Martin Parr.[n 2] Catalogue.
- West Bay. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Rocket Press, 1997. OCLC 698589004. About West Bay, Dorset, with poems by eight poets, edited by Lottie Hoare. Edition of 250 copies.
- Japonais endormis = Nemuru Nihonjin (眠る日本人). Paris: Galerie du jour Agnès B., 1998. ISBN 2-906496-29-4.
- Common Sense. Stockport, Cheshire: Dewi Lewis, 1999. ISBN 1-899235-07-8. No text.
- Benidorm. Über die Welt. = About the World. Hannover: Sprengel Museum Hannover, 1999. ISBN 3-89169-145-9. Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Sprengel Museum. With text by Gerry Badger and Thomas Weski in German and English.
Autoportrait. Stockport, Cheshire: Dewi Lewis, 2000. ISBN 1-899235-72-8. A small-format collection of photographs by commercial portrait photographers and others around the world of the unsmiling Parr. Introduction by Marvin Heiferman.
- Second, augmented edition. Stockport, Cheshire: Dewi Lewis, 2016. ISBN 978-1-907893-80-3.
- Think of England. London: Phaidon.
- The Phone Book: 1998-2002. Edition of 2,002 copies. London: Rocket and Essen: Galerie 20.21, 2002. ISBN 0-946676-53-4. ISBN 3-9806647-2-4.
- 7 Communist Still Lifes. One Picture Book 17. Portland, OR: Nazraeli Press, 2003. ISBN 1590050517. Edition of 500 copies.
- Fashion Magazine. Paris: Magnum Photos, 2005. ISBN 978-2-9524102-0-5. Text in French and English.
- 7 Colonial Still Lifes. One Picture Book 28. Portland, OR: Nazraeli Press, 2005. ISBN 1590051335. Edition of 500 copies.
- Mexico. With text by Rogelio Villarreal.
- Parrjektif: İstanbulʼda stil peşinde = Parrjective: Style hunting in Istanbul. Istanbul: Mavi Jeans, 2006. ISBN 9759671751.
- Tutta Roma. Rome: Contrasto, 2006. ISBN 88-6965-016-2. Main text by Ivana della Portella, introduction by Barringer Fifield.
- Parking Spaces. London: Chris Boot, 2007. OCLC 222585004. According to the colophon, "The last parking space photographed by Martin Parr in 41 countries between 2002 and 2007".
- Everybody Dance Now. New York: editions2wice, 2009. ISBN 0972388621.
- Playas. London: Chris Boot and Mexico: Editorial RM, 2009.
- Luxury. London: Chris Boot, 2009. ISBN 1-905712-13-8. With an introduction by Paul Smith.
- Martin Parr in India. [New Delhi]: Photoink, 2010. ISBN 8190391178. "Clubs, hotels & tearooms", "The sea", "Darjeeling", "Indian cakes", "Wedding parties"; text in Hindi, Urdu, and English.
- Japan. Kamakura: Super Labo, 2011. ISBN 4-905052-13-0. Edition of 500 copies.
- 7 Cups of Tea. One Picture Book 74. Portland, OR: Nazraeli Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1-58005-357-0. Edition of 500 copies.
- No Worries. Sydney: T & G, 2012. ISBN 978-0-987079-08-4. Produced for the City of Fremantle Festival of Photography and accompanied an exhibition held at the Western Maritime Museum, Victoria Quay, Fremantle; text by Robert Cook.
- Up and Down Peachtree: Photographs of Atlanta. Rome: Contrasto, 2012. ISBN 88-6965-332-3.
- Souvenir: Martin Parr, fotografia i col·leccionisme. Barcelona: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, 2012. ISBN 8498034914. Catalogue of an exhibition held at Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona; text in Catalan, English and Spanish.
- 100 photos de Martin Parr. Pour la liberté de la presse. Paris: Reporters sans frontières, 2012. ISBN 2362200108.
Life's a Beach.
- New York: Aperture, 2012. ISBN 1597112240. Edition of 1,000 copies.
- Paris: Xavier Barral, 2012. ISBN 2365110274. French-language version. Edition of 1,000 copies.
- Paris: Xavier Barral, 2012. ISBN 2365110088. French-language version.
- New York: Aperture, 2013. ISBN 978-1597112246.
- Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 2013. ISBN 3829606389. German-language version.
- Tokyo: Akaaka, 2013. ISBN 4903545954. Japanese-language version.
- The Non-Conformists. New York: Aperture, 2013. ISBN 1-597112-45-3.
- Grand Paris. Paris: Xavier Barral, 2014. ISBN 978-2-36511-047-1.
- Voewood Festival. High Kelling, Norfolk: Voewood Publications, 2014. ISBN 978-0992947200. Photographs of the Voewood Festival commissioned by Simon Finch. Introduction by DBC Pierre.
- Hong Kong Parr. London: GOST and Hong Kong: Blindspot Gallery, 2014. ISBN 978-1910401002. Photographs of Hong Kong in 2013 commissioned by Blindspot Gallery, accompanied by an exhibition at the gallery.
- Black Country Stories. Stockport, Cheshire: Dewi Lewis, 2014. ISBN 978-1907893636. Photographs of the Black Country region of England, commissioned by Multistory, accompanied by an exhibition at The New Art Gallery Walsall and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
- We Love Britain!. Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 2014. ISBN 978-3829606875. Edited by Inka Schube and with text by Inka Schube in German and English. Photographs of traces of Britishness in and around Hanover, Germany.
- Real Food. London: Phaidon, 2016. With an introductory essay by Fergus Henderson. Photographs of food taken throughout Parr's career.
Retrospectives, private publications, and very limited publications
- Boring Photographs. 2000. Photographs of Boring, Oregon. Edition of 12 copies.
- Flowers. Munkedals: Munken & Trebruk, 1999. Paris: Galerie du jour Agnès B., 2001. OCLC 82231759. Edition of 2500.
- Stern Portfolio. Stern Spezial Fotografie 36. Hamburg: Stern, 2004. ISBN 978-3-570194-45-4. Retrospective; texts in German and English.
- Fotografier 1971–2000. Stockholm: Kulturhuset, 2007. OCLC 474779301.
- Martin Parr Retrospective 1971–2000. Seoul Arts Centre, 2007. "This is the catalogue produced for Parr’s retrospective show at the Seoul Arts Centre in 2007."[n 3]
- Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters, 2011. A "preview catalogue" of photographs taken in Marrakesh for the clothing retailer Urban Outfitters.
Assorted Cocktail. Luxembourg: Coordination Générale; New York: Magnum Photos, 2006. OCLC 190847363. Exhibition catalogue.
- [Palma de Mallorca] Ajuntament de Palma; [Alicante] Caja Mediterraneo, . Catalogue of an exhibition held at Casal Solleric, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, June–September 2009; in Catalan, English, Spanish and French.
- Prague: DOX, Centre for Contemporary Art, 2011. ISBN 8087446062. Text by Thomas Weski and Irena Šorfová.
Papers and zines
- Basler Magazin. Basel, Switzerland: Basler, 1997. "A special edition of Basler Magazin, featuring images by Martin from the Basel Art Fair. Published by Basler Magazin, 1997".
- The Big Issue: On the Ring Road. The Big Issue 451, 20–26 August 2001. OCLC 500941730. "Martin Parr explores the strange rituals of suburban Britain".
- A8 Glasgow. London: John McAslan + Partners, 2005.OCLC 75968602. Special issue of JMP Journal. "A commission for John McAslan the architect, who invited Parr to photograph the surroundings of his childhood haunts between Dunoon and Port Glasgow. [. . .] 28 colour photographs."
- Rebirth. Stiletto, 2007. "A Stiletto fashion supplement. Published by Stiletto, 2007".
- Luxembourg. Luxembourg et Grande Region, 2007. "This 32 page newspaper was published in Luxembourg to coincide with its year as the European Capital of Culture 2007. [. . .] 36 colour photographs."
- Fashion Newspaper. London: Magnum Photos, 2007. OCLC 778631195. In English and Japanese. Accompanying a 2007 exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. "In 2007 Parr’s fashion exhibition, initiated by Bon Marche in Paris, went to Tokyo. This special newspaper was published to accompany the show. It features the Paul Smith’s winter 2007 collection as well as a folio of images taken in the UK. [. . .] 57 colour photographs."
- Dubai. Dubai: The Third Line, 2008. "In 2007 Parr photographed the races and polo in Dubai. A year later these images were shown at the Third Line Gallery in Dubai."
- Guardian Cities Project. London: The Guardian, 2008. OCLC 778916872. A set of newspaper supplements – on Manchester, Brighton, Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Newcastle, Cambridge, Leeds – in a box.
- The Art Newspaper, 16 October 2008. London: Umberto Allemandi, 2008. "A special edition of The Art Newspaper published and given out during Frieze Art Fair in London. Includes exclusive photographs shot by Martin at the event."
- The Art Newspaper, 18–19 October 2008. London: Umberto Allemandi, 2008. "A special edition of The Art Newspaper published and given out during Frieze Art Fair in London. Includes exclusive photographs shot by Martin at the event."
- St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School. Bristol City Council, 2011. About St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School: "Parr was appointed artist in residence at this large comprehensive school in Bristol for the 2010/2011 academic year. The resulting images were presented in an installation in the school and in a newspaper that was given to every pupil."
- The Goutte d'Or. Paris: L’Institut des Cultures d’Islam, 2011. "This newspaper accompanies an exhibition commission by the Islamam [sic] Cultural Centre based in this Paris suburb."
- Bristol and West. Bristol: M Shed, 2011. "Published to accompany Parr’s show at the newly opened M Shed in Bristol. Parr showed the many images taken in his long career in the West of England."
- Think of Switzerland. Switzerland: Du, 2013. "A special edition of [the Swiss magazine Du] which contains both Parr's new photos of the country, and some of the classic ones he shot in previous decades."
- Black Country Women. West Bromwich, England: Multistory, 2013. ISBN 978-0-956345-77-6. A magazine made for and about Black Country women, with photographs by Parr and text by Margaret Drabble.
- Chinatown 1984. Southport: Café Royal, 2015. Edition of 250 copies.
- Yates's. Southport: Café Royal, 2016. Edition of 500 copies.