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Only Human: Martin Parr

National Portrait Gallery, London

NOW CLOSED

A self-described ‘chronicler of our age’, photojournalist Martin Parr turns his lens on the topic of Britain’s evolving national identity in this exhibition, which focuses on the past two decades of his career, featuring well-known works alongside many that have not been shown before. The result – a survey of Parr’s portraits of people from many different walks of life, as well as his self-portraits – promises to be both witty and revealing. Find out more from the National Portrait Gallery’s website.

Preview the exhibition below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here

Nice, France, 2015 (2015), Martin Parr.

Nice, France, 2015 (2015), Martin Parr. © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos

The beach has long been a favoured setting for Parr, who in July 2015 spent a few days shooting photos while wandering up and down the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. It is a place where locals congregate with tourists from across the world, but it is also a scene where distinctions are formed and groups divide themselves along the lines of culture and activity.

Mary Lynn Myrkel, Gay Pride march, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 2010 (2010), Martin Parr.

Mary Lynn Myrkel, Gay Pride march, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 2010 (2010), Martin Parr. © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos

Commissioned by the High Museum of Art to travel through and document Atlanta for the museum’s Picturing the South project, Parr set out to capture the diversity of everyday life in the region. Here a mother campaigns for her sons’ rights at a Gay Pride marge, an image of the American South that resists stereotypes.

The Perry Family – daughter Florence, Philippa and Grayson, London, England, 2012 (2012), Martin Parr.

The Perry Family – daughter Florence, Philippa and Grayson, London, England, 2012 (2012), Martin Parr. © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos.

When the National Portrait Gallery’s head of photographs Phillip Prodger first proposed the idea of this exhibition to Parr, the artist said: ‘if you take a proposal to your exhibition committee for a show about ordinary people, then I will reveal that I have, in fact, been taking pictures of celebrities for many years’. Subjects have ranged from the Queen to fellow artists including Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry, here depicted with his wife, Philippa, and daughter, Florence.

Stone Cross Parade, St George’s Day, West Bromwich, the Black Country, England, 2017 (2017), Martin Parr.

Stone Cross Parade, St George’s Day, West Bromwich, the Black Country, England, 2017 (2017), Martin Parr. © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos.

‘One of the main themes will be British identity and given March 2019 is when we are supposedly leaving the European Union, the timing could not be better’, Parr has stated. Photographs shot in the run-up to and aftermath of the referendum in 2016 – such as this image of a St George’s Day parade, provoke questions about patriotism and national identity at this pivotal moment.