Martin Parr: Work and Leisure – Firstsite, Colchester

martin-parr-firstsiteThis is a first class… actually world class  photo exhibition at Colchester’s Firstsite gallery.  It was a must see event for me as I’ve been a fan of Martin Parr (born 1952) ever since listening to him speak at the Voewood literary festival in Holt. The show covers his work from his early days as a photographer through to the present day.

Parr’s vivid photos are full of wit and irony as well as nostalgia and laughter. They are also a social documentary, a kind of state of the nation record of our modern, global, consumer-driven lives and  they left me with a great deal to think about. Parr is the leading photographer in the UK today and pioneered the use of colour in art photography.

I always combine a visit to Firstsite with a tour of the Minories Galleries which are a hop, skip and a jump  away. The Minories is home to the Colchester Art School (Post Grad) and its regularly changing exhibitions include the work of students and wide ranging professional artists, as well as items from the Victor Batte-Lay Foundation’s excellent collection. At the back of the Minories there is a truly lovely tea garden where you can sit and reflect on what you’ve just seen with a cup of tea and a bun.

If you like Parr’s work and would like to know more about how he operates and how he developed his style, there is an very good video exclusively available on Vimeo of his final workshop. It includes plenty of insight into his own techniques and motivation and critiques of  participants’ work. It is of interest I feel to all artists, not just photographers. It costs a few dollars to download but is worth it. See link below.

References / useful links

Firstsite Gallery –

Victor Batte-Lay Foundation –

The Minories – Colchester School of Art –





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