Parr’s Ireland: 40 Years of PhotographyGallery 1
4th Aug 2022 to 24th Sep 2022
About The Exhibition
Belfast Exposed is delighted to present 'Parr's Ireland: 40 Years of Photography', a retrospective of work by esteemed British documentary photographer, Martin Parr.
One of the pre-eminent photographers of his generation, Parr has been taking photographs in Ireland over a 40-year period from 1979 to 2019. Between 1980 and 1982 Parr lived in Ireland, making his home in Boyle, County Roscommon. During this period, he extensively photographed the West of Ireland and continued to return to Ireland for a further three decades. His work in Ireland forms a visual testimony of the changing cultural and social norms of Irish life, charting the abrupt shift from Catholic novenas and country fairs to tech start-ups and café lattes. It captures the influx of newfound wealth and, in particular, the Americanisation of Irish society from the 1980s onwards.
Brought together in 'Parr's Ireland: 40 Years of Photography', this exhibition also gives an overview of Parr’s own evolving approach to photography, beginning in traditional black and white for the earliest images, that have a nostalgic feel yet also contain many layers, and at times a controversial & eccentric tone, before moving to colour photography as Parr brought new and innovative ideas to the documentary photography tradition.
The exhibition consists of excerpts from several bodies of work, exploring a variety of themes and events of historical and social significance in Ireland including the Pope’s visit to Ireland, the traditional Irish horse and cattle fairs, rural ballrooms, the infamous abandoned Morris Minors of the West of Ireland, seaside holidays and more. The colour images from Southern Ireland provide a critical view of the increasingly slick commercialism of modern Ireland, including shopping centres, show homes and duty free. This work attempts to highlight the contrast between old values and present reality. Often playing with clichéd notions of Irishness, this survey presents a timely opportunity to consider wider issues around representation and the increasingly diverse nature of Irish society.
In 2018, Belfast Exposed commissioned Parr to make a new documentary project on Tourism in Belfast. Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Northern Ireland has witnessed a dramatic economic resurgence. The tourism industry has flourished, bringing large-scale investment and unprecedented numbers of overseas visitors to the city. In recent years, the tourist industry has been predominantly shaped by two key historical events; the legacy of the Titanic, the ill-fated ship that was built in the Belfast docks and the ‘Troubles’, a 40-year period of violent conflict whose resonances can still be keenly felt throughout Northern Ireland.
In 2012, the new Titanic Belfast Centre opened its doors, attracting 800,000 visitors in its first year. This staggering flow of tourists to the city has been propelled by the recent upsurge in cruise liners now docking into Belfast. Many of these boats let loose over 3,000 tourists a day, with as many as three boats a week arriving. Elsewhere in the city, more grass roots industries have developed with the rise of what has been called ‘Dark Tourism’, with ‘Troubles Tours’ taking in some of the key locations and political murals from the bloody days of the conflict.
What is more, Belfast Exposed is privileged to be presenting a curated special edition of the collection, that includes the commission of work focusing specifically on Northern Ireland, and will be on display in Gallery I from Thursday 4th August to Saturday 24th September.
Deirdre Robb, CEO of Belfast Exposed said:
'We are absolutely delighted to be showing this unique and thought provoking retrospective from Martin Parr, a photographer of real cultural and historical significance. For four decades, Parr's work in Ireland has documented society in transition and his unique perspective on the everyday provides an evocative experience for viewers. It is, of course, particularly exciting to be presenting a specially curated edition of the 'Parr's Ireland', with commissioned work featuring Northern Ireland and to bring an exhibition of international significance to Belfast'.
Although affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the exhibition's tour began in Spring 2021 in Limerick City Art Gallery, moving in June to Dublin’s Gallery of Photography before travelling to Roscommon Arts Centre in September. Since early 2022 it has been showing in The McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, before coming to Belfast Exposed from Thursday 4th August. Previous restrictions on gallery openings and visitor numbers mean that Belfast Exposed will be the first and only venue on the island of Ireland to exhibit the retrospective in a space fully open to the public, with no limit on visitor numbers or timing.
Following the collection's time in Belfast, it then completes the tour in November at Paris Photo 2022, exhibiting in the Centre Culturel Irlandais as part of the Centre’s 20th anniversary celebrations alongside work by photography alumni of Belfast School of Art at Ulster University, where Parr is a visiting Professor. The tour is accompanied by a limited-edition book of the exhibition and an essay by acclaimed Irish writer Fintan O’Toole. The book, From The Pope To A Flat White is published by Damiani.
Martin Parr (born 1952) is a British documentary photographer and photojournalist. Parr is known for work that take an intimate, satirical and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting social class, in both the UK and abroad. Active since the early 1970s, Parr is one of the most prolific and thought provoking photographers of his generation. His work is currently held in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Tate.
Parr is renowned as a photobook collector and expert. He co-authored a landmark series of publications on the history of the photobook with Gerry Badger. The Martin Parr Foundation, founded in 2014, established its premises in Parr’s hometown of Bristol in 2017. The Foundation supports emerging, established and overlooked photographers who have made and continue to make work focused on the British Isles. It houses Parr’s own archive, his extensive collection of British and Irish photography by other photographers, and a gallery.
In 2014, The Martin Parr Foundation was established to support 'emerging, established and overlooked photographers' working in Britain and Ireland.
4th August 2022 | 18:00 | Belfast Exposed - Gallery I
This exhibition tour has been produced by Tracy Marshall-Grant for Martin Parr Studios, Martin Parr Foundation and the venue partners: Limerick City Art Gallery, Gallery of Photography Dublin, Roscommon Arts Centre, The McMullen Museum of Art, Boston, Belfast Exposed Gallery and Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris.