Martin Parr Foundation to open in October

17 September 2017

Industry news

The Martin Parr Foundation, a new centre for British photography and the works of Martin Parr HonFRPS, will open in Bristol on 25 October 2017. The Martin Parr Foundation was established in 2014 and will open to the public in a new space in the Paintworks complex, Bristol, comprising of a studio, gallery, library and archive centre. 

The aim of the Foundation is to support and promote photography from the British Isles. It will do so by preserving the archive and legacy of Martin Parr, and by holding a growing collection of works by selected British and Irish photographers as well as images taken in the British Isles by international photographers. The Foundation will also house an expanding library of British and Irish photographic books.

© Louis Little / Martin Parr FoundationMartin Parr (b. 1952) is one of the most significant documentary photographers of post-war Britain. He has developed an international reputation for his innovative imagery, his oblique approach to social documentary, and his contribution to photographic culture both within the UK and abroad. Alongside his reputation as a photographer, Parr is known as an important collector, especially of photobooks. Over the past 40 years, Parr’s dedication to discovering and promoting the overlooked, and his support of both photographers and photography has contributed to the way the history of the medium is understood and defined. His collection of around 12,000 photobooks, one of the most inclusive photobook collections in the world, has been both gifted to and acquired by Tate with assistance from the Luma Foundation, The Art Fund and Tate’s supporters. Some of the proceeds from this acquisition have been invested in the Martin Parr Foundation.

The Foundation gallery space will be open to the public on a regular basis and will present work related to British photography as well as images by Martin Parr. The first exhibition from 25 October–January 2018 will be ‘Black Country Stories’ by Martin Parr, followed by ‘Town to Town’ by Niall McDiarmid and the David Hurn ’Swaps’ show in Spring 2018.

The Martin Parr Foundation will house a collection of post-war documentary photography relating to the British Isles, both prints and book maquettes, including works by Keith Arnatt, Richard Billingham, Elaine Constantine, John Davies, Paul Graham, Ken Grant, John Hinde, Peter Mitchell, Tony Ray-Jones, Paul Reas, Simon Roberts, Graham Smith, Tom Wood and Eamonn Doyle. The collection will include two original maquettes of ‘In Flagrante’ by Chris Killip, the full sets of ‘Belgravia’ by Karen Knorr and of ‘Hackney Flowers’ by Stephen Gill and the original prints from Victor Sloan’s 1989 exhibition, ‘Walls’, from the Orchard Gallery in Derry.

Martin Parr’s archive held by the Foundation will consist of works spanning Parr’s career from his student days to the present, including ephemera, correspondence, books and published editorial work.

© Michael PritchardThe Martin Parr Foundation will offer the facility to book group visits and individual research sessions alongside a programme of public talks, educational events, book signings and seminars, all related to photography in a wider sense.

Parr said: ‘Post-war British documentary photograph continues to be underappreciated and I wanted to make a small contribution to rectify this. The Foundation will support and preserve the legacy of photographers who made, and continue to make, important work focused on the British Isles.’ 

Jenni Smith has been appointed Director of the Martin Parr Foundation. Six trustees have also been appointed and will meet twice a year. They comprise three members of the Parr family along with Jenni Smith, Fiona Rogers (Global Business Development Manager at Magnum Photos) and Rudi Thoemmes (RRB Books). 

The Foundation is also working closely with the University of the West of England, and will exhibit the final show of their newly established MA Photography course.

The Martin Parr Foundation is based at 316 Paintworks, Arnos Vale, Bristol, BS4 3AR. The Foundation will be open to the public from Wednesday–Saturday. A launch seminar will take place on Saturday, 21 October 2017. Details at: http://www.martinparrfoundation.org/ 

Images (top and centre): © Louis Little, courtesy Martin Parr Foundation; (lower) Michael Pritchard.