Martin Parr

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Martin Parr (born 1952) is widely acknowledged for his photographic projects that highlight, and gently satirise people and their cultures. His wry observational photography is characterised by the use of vivid colour. Martin Parr is represented by Rocket Gallery.

All works are available for purchase – please click on an image for further information.

Works

Untitled (Boy and Girl Eating Ice Cream), 1983-85

Martin Parr

Untitled, from ‘Butlins by the Sea’, 1972

Martin Parr

Manchester, 1971

Martin Parr

Steep Lane Baptist Church Buffet Lunch, Calderdale, Halifax, West Yorkshire, 1976

Martin Parr

Surrey Bird Club, Surrey, 1972

Martin Parr

Jubilee Street Party, Elland, Yorkshire, 1977

Martin Parr

Steep Lane Baptist Chapel, West Yorkshire, 1977

Martin Parr

North Yorkshire, Harrogate, Brimham Rocks, 1974

Martin Parr

Mayor of Todmorden’s Inaugural Banquet, Calderdale, 1976

Martin Parr

Boulderclough Methodist Chapel, Anniversary Tea, Calderdale, from ‘The Non-Conformists’, 1978

Martin Parr

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-On-Sea, East Sussex, 1978

Martin Parr

Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, England, 1977

Martin Parr

Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, from ‘Beauty Spots’, 1975

Martin Parr

Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, from ‘Bad Weather’, March 1980

Martin Parr

Crimsworth Dean Methodist Chapel, West Yorkshire, 1975

Martin Parr

Mr and Mrs Connolley Practise Dancing in the Otherwise Unused Booth Chapel Sunday School, Booth, West Yorkshire, 1976

Martin Parr

Stratford Upon Avon, 1974

Martin Parr

Jubilee Street Party, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, 1977

Martin Parr

Glenbeigh Races, County Kerry, Ireland, 1983

Martin Parr

Seafront, Blackpool, 1977

Martin Parr

Abandoned Morris Minors, Arigna, County Roscommon, 1980-1983, from ‘A Fair Day’

Martin Parr

Wheldrake, North Yorkshire, 1980

Martin Parr

Rosses Point, County Sligo, from ‘A Fair Day’, 1983

Martin Parr

Wallasey Carnival, Wallasey, 1983

Martin Parr

Untitled (New Brighton), from ‘The Last Resort’, 1983-1985

Martin Parr

New Brighton, from ‘The Last Resort’, 1983-85

Martin Parr

New Brighton, from ‘The Last Resort’, 1983-85

Martin Parr

New Brighton, from ‘The Last Resort’, 1983-85

Martin Parr

Untitled (New Brighton), from ‘The Last Resort’, 1983-1985

Martin Parr

Untitled (New Brighton), 1983-85

Martin Parr

Untitled (New Brighton), 1983-85

Martin Parr

Untitled (New Brighton), 1983-85

Martin Parr

Untitled (New Brighton), 1983-85

Martin Parr

Untitled (New Brighton), 1983-85

Martin Parr

Untitled (New Brighton), 1983-85

Martin Parr

New Brighton, from ‘The Last Resort’, 1983-85

Martin Parr

Margate, Kent, 1986

Martin Parr

A Cobblers, Salford, 1986

Martin Parr

Ramsgate, Kent, 1986

Martin Parr

Lunch for a Couple, Ramsgate, Kent, from ‘Home and Abroad’, 1986

Martin Parr

Mid Summer Madness Party, 1989

Martin Parr

It’s This Edwardian Look That We’re Trying to Achieve From the Bottom Right Up to the Top of the House, 1991

Martin Parr

The House Came with Everything Right Down to the Bars of Soap, 1991

Martin Parr

We Keep Buying Things Thinking ‘That’ll Look Better’ and it Just Doesn’t, 1991

Martin Parr

It’s Not Stuff That Run-Of-The-Mill People Would Have in Their Homes, 1991

Martin Parr

There Wasn’t Anything Here That Had a Feminine Touch. I Basically Moved in and Plonked Things Down, 1991

Martin Parr

I Get Such Pleasure from them Every Day When I Sit in the Bath, 1991

Martin Parr

I Remember Very Clearly When this Carpet Went Down Because it Came Over Television that President Kennedy was Assassinated, 1991

Martin Parr

When I Looked at the Wallpaper and the Wallpaper Looked at me we Instantly Fell in Love, 1991

Martin Parr

We Wanted a Cottagey Stately Home Kind of Feel, 1991

Martin Parr

I Don’t Think it’s Anything Particularly Forced on Deborah, We’ve Just Always Enjoyed the Same Sort of Things, 1991

Martin Parr

I Think we are Looking for a Look that is Established, Warm, Comfortable, Traditional, 1991

Martin Parr

Woodworm does Generate Through the Furniture, and Obviously if You’re Putting New Things into Your Home the Last Thing you Want is an Invitation to Worms, 1991

Martin Parr

We Thought we Could Make it Look Sort of Bistro-y Looking in the Kitchen and Then Carry it Through to the Lounge, 1991

Martin Parr

After a Few Weeks Living Here I Put Out a Few Teddy Bears and he Came Home One Day and Just Went Mad About it, 1991

Martin Parr

To Come Home in the Evenings to Find the Kids Have Carried Out Their Own Form of Anarchy is Just About the Last Thing I Can Face, 1991

Martin Parr

It Was Very Masculine When I Came in Here, So I Put my Quilt Out – the Flowery one Which he Detests, 1991

Martin Parr

Marie-Louise’s Pig Irritates me Intensely. I Can’t Say Why, But it Just Irritates me Intensely, 1991

Martin Parr

I Like to be Surrounded by Things that are Visually Impressive, 1991

Martin Parr

It Still Feels as Though we are Living in a Hotel Suite. I Want to Pick up the Phone and Ring for Room Service, 1991

Martin Parr

I Wanted to be a Little Bit Different, a Little Bit Individual, That’s Why I Only Did One Side, 1991

Martin Parr

Each to Their Own But I Think This is Going to be One of the Best – if Not the Best – Houses on the Estate, 1991

Martin Parr

The Fire Has a Light Bulb Underneath Which We Don’t Use Because it is Very Cheap Looking, 1991

Martin Parr

We Are Going to Come to a Nice Compromise on Every Issue. I’ve Already Decided What Colours We’re Going to Have. He Can Just Pick the Variations, 1991

Martin Parr

Dramatic, Glamorous, Over-The-Top. I Think That’s What We’re Looking For, 1991

Martin Parr

Underneath it All She Really is a Lovely Girl, 1992

Martin Parr

Everything’s Very Important to me. I Can’t Just Live in an Ordinary House, it Has to be a Special House, 1991

Martin Parr

I Spoke with Gary About the Tree-Mug but There was no Way he Would Change it, 1991

Martin Parr

Early Life

Born in Epsom, Surrey on 23 May 1952, the son of a civil servant, Martin Parr was heavily influenced by his grandfather’s hobby as an amateur photographer. He would go out photographing with his grandfather and on return they would process the film and develop prints together. Parr went on to study the subject at Manchester Polytechnic from 1970-1973. During these years he was exposed to the work by many influential photographers, but it was the work of Tony Ray-Jones that provided Parr with the most inspiration.

Photographic Career

On graduating, Parr began work as a professional photographer, supporting his career by taking on various teaching assignments between 1975 and the early 1990s. At the beginning of the 1980s his work aimed to mirror the lifestyle of ordinary British people, reflecting the social decline and distress of the working class during the era of Margaret Thatcher. He earned an international reputation for his oblique approach to social documentary, and for innovative imagery, in particular his black and white projects such as Bad Weather (1982) and later his publication A Fair Day (1984).

The Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton (1986) was Parr’s first project to show a move towards his now distinct personal style: bright colours and vivid images, that captured the holidaymakers of New Brighton and set alight his passion for observing society. This series has since become a modern classic. Parr’s global project, Common Sense (1995-99), developed this technique further and gained him more recognition as a satirical photojournalist. The project aimed to highlight the idiosyncrasies of different contemporary cultures such as a British cup of tea, a dazzling Hollywood smile and other such cultural clichés.

In the 1990s the BBC aired a documentary called Signs of the Times, in collaboration with Nicholas Barker and Martin Parr. Directed by Barker, it was an early version of reality television and was seen as a fly-on-the-wall documentary combined with the celebrity show Through the Keyhole. An advertisement was placed in the British national and regional press asking for volunteers to be involved in the film. It was to be a show documenting the personal tastes of people in the British home. Two thousand people applied and fifty were chosen, from a range of ages, races, genders and social backgrounds. Parr was asked by Barker to be the stills photographer on the shoot, and created a subsequent book to accompany the documentary. Each of the titles he and Barker gave the photographs are quotes from people in the film, which inadvertently send themselves up. Subtitled “portrait of the nation’s taste” these photographs give an insightful and amusing view of British taste in the 90s. For Parr, the moral atrophy and preposterousness of our daily lives means we can only find salvation through adopting a certain sense of humour. Much of his work satirizes the banality, boredom and lack of meaning that he finds prevalent in modern times.

Parr is a member of Magnum Photos, and is still one of the country’s most popular photojournalists, contributing to a wide range of printed media.

Exhibitions and Awards

Parr has exhibited his work globally since 1974, including exhibitions at The Photographer’s Gallery, London, National Centre of Photography, Paris and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan. Parr is prolific in his output and has published over eighty books. He has won many awards throughout his career including the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Award and, in 2006, Photokina’s Eric Soloman Award for photojournalism.