Seminal Platforms

Having been established in 2014, the Martin Parr Foundation is now set to open to the public this October in a purpose-built space in the Paintworks complex, Bristol. The centre comprises a studio, gallery, library and archive, and supports the foundation’s aim of promoting photography from the British Isles. One of the principal ways in which the organisers hope to do this is through preserving the legacy of Martin Parr (b. 1952), one of the most significant documentary photographers of post-war Britain. Through a combination of innovative imagery and an indirect approach to social issues, Parr has been contributing to the field both at home and abroad for over 40 years, but in this time he has also remained consistently dedicated to shining a light on those who are overlooked in his field.

In addition to housing an ever-growing collection of works by selected British and Irish photographers, the foundation also gives space to work made within the British Isles by those from around the world. Including both prints and book maquettes, there are works by significant photographers including Richard Billingham, Elain Constantine, John Hinde and Eamonn Doyle. And the foundation’s collection will also be home to the original maquette of In Flagrante by Chris Killip, the full sets of Belgravia by Karen Knorr and the original prints from Victor Sloan’s 1989 exhibition Walls.

Once the foundation is open there is the possibility of booking group visits and individual research sessions in its extensive archives, as well as a full programme of public talks, educational events, book signing and seminars. The centre is also closely involved with the University of West England, and will be exhibiting the final show of their newly established MA course in photography in future. With a schedule of exhibitions already running into 2018, beginning with Black Country Stories by Parr, and then followed by Town to Town by Niall McDiarmid and Swaps by David Hurn in the Spring, there’s already a lot to look forward to. Imbued with Parr’s dedication to the medium and his long-time passion for supporting its practitioners, this new addition to Bristol’s art scene is set to be an important centre for the British Isles, and a testament to the many lenses through which they can be seen.

Ned Carter Miles

Opening 25 October. For more information:

1. New Brighton, England, UK. From the series ‘The Last Resort, 1983-85’. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos.