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Published by Paul Vincent

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Published by: Paul Vincent on Sep 16, 2013
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FOR KS2-4,FE & HE STUDENTS OF PHOTOGRAPHY,ART,ENGLISH,HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES.4 OCTOBER 2002 - 5 JANUARY 2003National Museum of Photography Film & Televsion,Bradford,West Yorkshire,BD1 1NQ
New Brighton,Merseyside,from
The Last Resort 
,1983-6 (original in colour)
This major retrospective exhibition,curated by Val Williams,explores the career of Martin Parr,arguably the most influential and innovative figure in British social documentary photography.Bringing together around 150 works and several installations,the exhibition explores thehumorous,provocative and incisive nature of Parr’s internationally established and distinctivevision.The exhibition includes a selection of Parr’s lesser-known black and white work,much of itcreated in West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester in the 1970s alongside several colour series’from the 1980s,including
The Last Resort 
The Cost of Living 
.More recent featured projectsinclude
Common Sense
(1999) and
Cherry Blossom
(2000).Martin Parr was born in 1952 and brought up in suburban Surrey.His was an uneventfulmiddle class childhood,spent for the most part in a thirties-built bungalow that Parr was later  to describe as
drab,suburban and dreary.
His father was a keen ornithologist.Martin would often accompany him on bird-watching trips,and family holidays (often to Norfolk or France) were usually characterised by his father’s loveof nature,and enthusiasm for birds of prey.Religion also played a part in Parr’s early life,bothparents being practising Methodists,and he himself attending Sunday School.Parr’s father had akeen interest in collecting,demonstrable through his hobbies,and Martin inherited the bug.Evidence of this interest can be seen in Parr’s work - his choice of subject and method of portrayal,but it can be witnessed in his personal life too,as several now well-known collectionshave made evident:
in particular.During his childhood,Martin made regular visits north,to see his grandfather,George Parr,wholived in Bradford,Yorkshire.George Parr,Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society,was a self- taught,working-class,amateur photographer whose enthusiasm for the subject had a deepimpact on Martin.It was during these visits that George Parr took his grandson on regular day trips,often tonorthern seaside resorts.These resorts were the sorts of places Martin never visited with hisparents and he quickly became fascinated with (what he described as) the ‘brash’side of English life,found at places like Scarborough,Blackpool and Morecambe.At the age of about 15 Parr began to visit photographic exhibitions.Soon he was introduced to the magazine
Creative Camera
.An early visit to an exhibition by photographer Bill Brandthad a profound effect upon him.He described the feeling in 1992:
Well,I just went round and thought God! photography is fantastic,this is what I want todo ...(photography) was graphic,immediate,accessible,all those sorts of things.I mean you can’t really explain why people are hooked into these things,but I definitely just felt the bug,and you know,I’ve had it ever since.
Martin Parr 
Parr shot one of his first photographic series’when he was about 16 years old.It was takenduring one of his trips to Yorkshire,at the famous fish and chip restaurant
Harry Ramsden’s.
Demonstrating confidence,obvious ability and an enthusiasm for social documentarphotography,Parr portrayed the shop as (in his own words)
quite a sad place,bleaker than it really was
- to emphasise his strong feeling that many places that interested him would soon be lost – outdated victims of a homogenised and sanitised society.It was about two years later,in 1970,that Martin Parr moved to Manchester to study photography at the Polytechnic.College life was exciting and exotic in comparison to life inAshtead,and Parr was delighted to be able to devote all his time to exploring and photographing the ordinary,day-to-day things that he enjoyed so much about British culture and society.
Princess Anne’s wedding,from the
Home Sweet Home

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