Over the past four decades, Magnum photographer Martin Parr documented everyday life in Britain. In his series The Rhubarb Triangle, he captured all aspects of the rhubarb business, from the back-breaking work of moving the rhubarb from field to shed to the consumption of the vegetable by coach parties and food tourists. Located between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell in West Yorkshire, which is famous for producing the early-forced rhubarb, the photographs of this rural area now lie at the heart of the exhibition Martin Parr: Work and Leisure.
Alongside this recent series that was commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield, the exhibition will show more than 300 photographs in a chronological overview. From the beginning of his career, Parr focused on taking pictures of Britain’s ordinary people, from country to sea sides. In his first major series The Non-Conformist in the mid 70’s, Parr documented aspects of traditional life that were about to decline in a Yorkshire town. Reflecting his personal experiences with local culture, these works predated the cutting colour work that earned him his fame one decade later. Here, in his famous series that became one of the most significant bodies of British photography, The Last Resort, he captured leisure time in the seaside town of New Brighton, reflecting a multi-facetted image of a place that suffered from neglect and tidal changes but remained to attract large crowds on hot summer days. Parr documented British local life in a run-down resort that was still very much alive.
Alongside the exhibition, Firstsite invites photographers to digitally submit their works, which suggest individual interpretations of the Essence of Essex. A selection of images will be presented at the gallery, with one overall winner picked by Parr himself. Also, visitors can have a peak at the photographer’s personal collection of postcards that were published in various books as well as find a publication featuring an essay on The Rhubarb Triangle, written by Parr’s partner, Susie Parr.
Martin Parr: Work and Leisure, until 2 October, Firstsite Contemporary Visual Arts in Colchester. For more information visit http://www.firstsite.uk.net/.
1. Martin Parr, The Last Resort. 1985. Courtesy of Magnum Photos.