Suited and Booted

By Perry, Grayson | New Statesman (1996), October 10, 2014 | Go to article overview

Suited and Booted


Perry, Grayson, New Statesman (1996)


When I first encountered Martin Parr's work in the 1980s I felt I had found an artist who articulated something about being British that I had never seen before, at once affectionate and teasing. I adored his cheeky records of dying working-class communities and scabrous portrayals of Thatcherite consumers. His way of looking at the world is now part of my way of looking at the world. He has achieved that Holy Grail of photography, a visual voice so distinctive that it has become an archetype. Parr-esque is now a burgeoning genre. His vision is simultaneously a celebration of the nuances of tribal behaviour and a gimlet-eyed stab at pretension and earnestness. He is an ideal chronicler of the Great White Male partly because he is one. He understands every detail of the code. He can turn the most nondescript character into a rich grotesque. He makes us laugh at the rich and powerful quaffing champagne and feel empathy with the underdog alone in his staffroom. No one can hide from the lens of Martin Parr especially not Default Man.

Shrewsbury School, Shropshire 2010 (below)

Martin Parr writes: Recently, I've been shooting in schools: the pupils' noise can be briefly escaped from in the staffroom.

Karen Country Club, Nairobi 2010 (above)

The British left Kenya more than 50 years ago, but pockets of colonial life are still to be found because, unlike in Zimbabwe, the whites have been allowed to stay and flourish. The Karen club in the capital is a good example of this colonial hangover.

Henley, Oxfordshire 2013 (left)

The sanctuary of the Stewards' Enclosure at Henley Royal Regatta. This is probably the most genuine part of "the season", as it hasn't been taken over by the marketing people. It really is like stepping back to the 1950s--and the bonus for me is that rowing blazers are very photogenic. …

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