Martin Parr (b. 1952) is widely known for an oeuvre comprising highly saturated colour images. An interest in themes of class, consumer culture and leisure is evident across his images, which investigate British idiosyncracies with a direct yet strikingly humorous eye. A new show at Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London, offers a new perspective on this socially receptive work, highlighting the practitioner’s early pieces to examine his formative years.
The exhibition brings together a range of black and white compositions from The Non-Conformists, Bad Weather, Beauty Spots and A Fair Day, drawing a portrait of the first 15 years of Parr’s career. Created between 1972-1986, the early, monochromatic series illustrate life in rural Northern England, whilst the later colour works in The Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton, demonstrate a shift in subject matter and technique. The selection offers viewers the opportunity to examine the pieces that informed the artist’s wry sense of homour and dynamic mise-en-scene, considering a transitional period.
Showcasing an ongoing interest in social documentary, the 30 images on display in Early Work 1971 – 1986 engage with the lived experiences of individuals. For example, The Non-Conformists captures a traditional community, charting a declining way of life focused around farming, industry and the church. An engagement with rural communities pervades his practice, which captures the unique characteristics of society through an anthropological approach.
In a similar way, Parr’s seminal series The Last Resort is set against the backdrop of a neglected seaside resort on the Wirral Peninsula. The project was his first shot entirely in colour, and marks a move towards a now signature style. Combining bright tones and a use of daylight flash, the body of work documents the experiences of vistors, highlighting the locale’s run down yet thriving landscape.
Until 8 June. Find out more here.
1. Martin Parr De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-On-Sea, East Sussex, 1978. Courtesy Huxley-Parlour Gallery,