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Martin Parr's iconic photos of Hebden Bridge coming to Bradford Media Museum

including 55 photographs taken by Martin Parr around Hebden Bridge in the 1970s

Update - see below: book-signing at The Book Case on 12 April

Friday, 7 March 2014

Two seminal British photographers are the focus of the exhibition Only In England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr, opening at the National Media Museum on 28 March, 2014.

Martin Parr's photo of the Society of Henpecked Husbands
from the Charlestown History website

More photos of the Hebden Bridge area from Martin Parr

It features more than 100 works drawn from the Tony Ray-Jones Archive, part of the National Photography Collection at the National Media Museum. These will be shown alongside 55 early black and white photographs from The Non-Conformists, taken by Martin Parr in Hebden Bridge and the surrounding Calder Valley in the1970s.

The Museum has made a new acquisition of 77 prints from this series, which in addition to other works now gives it the largest holding of Parr photographs by any institution in the world.

Only in England arrives at the National Media Museum following its run as the inaugural show at Media Space in the Science Museum. Media Space, a collaboration between the National Media Museum and the Science Museum, opened in September 2013 as a new gallery dedicated to exploring the art, science and technology of the still and moving image.

Around 50 vintage Tony Ray-Jones prints will be on display in the exhibition, alongside an equal number of his photographs which have been printed especially for the show. Martin Parr was invited to select these new prints from the 2,700 contact sheets and negatives in the Ray-Jones archive.

In 1970, Martin Parr (b. 1952), a photography student at Manchester Polytechnic, had been introduced to Ray-Jones and was immediately inspired by his work. Parr moved to Hebden Bridge in 1974 and produced The Non-Conformists, shot in black and white in and around the Calder Valley. This project started within two years of Ray-Jones' death and demonstrates his legacy and influence. Prior to Only in England these images were last exhibited in the region in Hebden Bridge itself, in 1981.

Greg Hobson, Curator of Photographs at the National Media Museum said: "The Tony Ray-Jones Archive is one of the most significant holdings of British photography anywhere in the world. Partnering it alongside Martin Parr's rarely displayed images of West Yorkshire from the 1970s, viewers can trace a fascinating trajectory of photographic influence."

Martin Parr said: "Tony Ray-Jones' pictures were about England. They had that contrast, that seedy eccentricity, but they showed it in a very subtle way. They have an ambiguity, a visual anarchy. They showed me what was possible."

Ray-Jones was born in Somerset in 1941. He studied graphic design at the London School of Printing before leaving the UK in 1961 to study on a scholarship at Yale University in Connecticut, US. He followed this with a year long stay in New York during which he attended classes by the influential art director Alexey Brodovitch, and became friends with photographers Joel Meyerowitz and Garry Winogrand. In 1966 he returned to find a Britain still divided by class and tradition. A Day Off - An English Journal, a collection of photographs he took between 1967-1970, was published posthumously in 1974.

Parr was born in Epsom, Surrey in 1952. He graduated from Manchester Polytechnic in 1974 and moved to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, where he established the 'Albert Street Workshop', a hub for artistic activity in the town. Fascinated by the variety of non-conformist chapels and the communities he encountered in the town he produced The Non-Conformists. In 1984 Parr began to work in colour and his breakthrough publication The Last Resort was published in 1986. A Magnum photographer, Parr is now an internationally renowned photographer, filmmaker, collector and curator, best-known for his highly saturated colour photographs critiquing modern life.

Between 1966 and 1969 Tony Ray-Jones (1941-1972) created a body of photographic work documenting English customs and identity. Humorous yet melancholy, these photographs were a departure from anything else being produced at the time. They quickly attracted the attention of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London where they were exhibited in 1969. Tragically, in 1972, Ray-Jones died from leukaemia aged just 30. However, his short but prolific career had a lasting influence on the development of British photography from the 1970s through to the present day.

Martin Parr and Susie Parr in Conversation
Saturday 12 April 2014.10:30 - 12:00
National Media Museum

Internationally renowned Magnum photographer Martin Parr and his wife and author Susie Parr in conversation with Greg Hobson, curator of Only in England at the National Media Museum. The event focuses on Tony Ray-Jones' influence and Parr's work on The Non-Conformists, taken in Hebden Bridge during the 1970s, a time and place where Martin and Susie both documented what they saw as a traditional life in decline.

Booking: 0844 856 3797 www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk £5.00 and £3.50 concessions

Martin Parr with Susie Parr
The Non-Conformists

Book-signing Saturday 12th April 3pm

The Non-Conformists features Martin Parr's first major body of work from the mid-1970s, published here for the first time in book form.

In 1975, fresh out of art school, Martin Parr found poor footing in the London photography scene, so he moved to the picturesque Yorkshire Pennine mill town of Hebden Bridge.

Over a period of five years, he documented the town in photographs, showing in particular the aspects of traditional life that were beginning to decline. Susie Parr, whom he had met in Manchester, joined him in documenting a year in the life of a small Methodist chapel, together with its farming community.

Martin has an exhibition of his work at Bradford Media Museum and will be at the shop signing copies of his book and talking briefly about his work after talking in Bradford the same day. See HebWeb News

Venue: The Book Case, 29 Market St, Hebden Bridge