Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Martin's Parr'd

Martin Parr opened his Parrworld and Luxury exhibitions at the brilliant Baltic in Gateshead in October 2009.

If photographer's are famous then Parr is undoubtedly the most famous in Britain and one the most well-known in the whole wide world. Not bad for someone who lives in his own little world of irony, wryness and kitsch.

Parrworld is an exhibition of Parr's own memorabilia collection, from ultra-rare photography books and prints to tea trays and Osama Bin Laden watches.

I was at the opening night. This was the second talk of Parr's I have attended.

Like the first at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2007, Parr came across as luke-warm understated speaker who is not really one for engaging with his audience during the Q&A's.

Even when I asked him to sign a copy of his new book I could only get a couple of sentences out of him (I mentioned Middlesborugh photographer Ian Macdonald whose work is in Parrword, Parr agreed that Macdonald was talented).

But it is fascinating to get an insight into what makes his photography work. He has ideas, often about ordinary subjects, but he puts the effort in to produce the results.

And he admitted he quite likes controversy surrounding his work. He's had a fair bit in his time. It hasn't done him any harm.

The Luxury photographs are fantastic, but if you're after a lesson in the history of photography there is no better place to start than through Parr's own collection. Worth the entry fee alone to see the 911 rugs.

Parrworld runs until January 17 2010 at The Baltic. And entry is free, by the way.

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