I had the pleasure to stay for a few days in London recently. While spending some time with my Londoner family, their typical sense of humour reminded of Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr’s “Only in England” exhibition. It explores the lasting influences of the too short career of British photographer Tony Ray-Jones on the developement of British photography since the 70’s and on Martin Parr’s work. Driven by the moto “Don’t take boring pictures”, Ray-Jones was fascinated by the eccentricities of English social customs and immortalized what he thought was a disappearing way of life. Full of melancholy and humour, his work impacted Parr’s rarely seen black and white photographs from ‘The Non-Conformists’ series. Known for his sociological and satirical point of view, Parr provided his own analysis of the modern life, documenting the social classeds of England.
Beauty Contest Southport, Tony Ray-Jones, 1967
Mankinholes Methodist Chapel, Martin Parr, 1975
Blackpool, Tony Ray-Jones, 1968
Brighton Beach, Tony Ray-Jones, 1967
Tom Greenwood cleaning, Martin Parr, 1976
Spring has finally sprung. Holidays are around the corner and everybody tends now to apply strategies to get the most of this beautiful weather and their spare time. I live in a touristic place in Switzerland where I have the chance to meet a lot of people from all around the world. And with the 30 degrees we are having here at the moment, there is a queue in front of the swimming pool, the beaches are crowded as are all seeking the same things: sunbathing, eating ice cream and taking pictures in front of visited sights.
These scenes remind me of Martin Parr, a photographer that has explored the theme of tourists and their behaviours on holidays. According his point of view, “visiting sites is a modern form of pilgrimage and the resulting photos the ultimate price.” His pictures show the contradiction between the places we all know such the Eiffel Tower and the reality of actually being at an iconic site.
Martin Parr, Spain, Benidorm, 1997
Martin Parr, Miyagazi, the artificial beach inside the Ocean Dome, 1996
Martin Parr, Italy, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, 1990
Martin Parr, Thailand, Hua Hin, 2012