09th December 2019
Happy to say I have bought a signed edition of Parr’s The Last Resort: Introduced by Gerry Badger (2018).United Kingdom, Dewi Lewis Publishing
When Martin Parr’s The Last Resort was first published and exhibited in 1986 it divided both critics and audiences alike. Some saw it as the ‘finest achievement to date’ of colour photography in Britain whilst others viewed it as ‘an aberration’. With the benefit of hindsight there is little doubt that it transformed documentary photography in Britain and placed Parr amongst the world’s leading photographers. The book is now recognized as a ‘classic’ and is highly sought by collectors worldwide. Whilst this new edition keeps the same images and sequence as the original, a new text has been commissioned from Gerry Badger.
Steering a perilous course between objectivity and voyeurism, Parr viewed the decaying holiday resort of New Brighton and its holidaymakers in a way that was new, unique and deeply disturbing. And he did so in colour, something which at the time was seen as revolutionary for documentary work. For some his camera seemed cold and cruel as it followed the working classes desperately pursuing their holiday dreams surrounded by dereliction and decay and wading through the apparently endless detritus of a pollution-ridden consumer society. Others felt it showed an affectionate, humorous and humanistic response from Parr. However it was viewed, it was undoubtedly a sharp, bitter satire of the Britain of the Thatcher years.Magnum Photos Shop
This is a hard back book with very good quality paper and matching high standard printing. There are 41 images in total and they are mostly presented individually on the right side of a double page with two pairing of images which are printed on both pages of the opening spread. Each pairing of images have a relationship, the image below shows that both the boy and the entertainer have their arms open wide. The likeness is small and I am wondering if these double page spreads were included to break up the books single page composition.
The opening introduction by Gerry Badger talks about Martin Parr’s work and how it has impacted on photography. He gives us an insight into Parr’s working method, life and the making of this series.
The images flow effortlessly showing the highs and lows connected with the decaying, rubbish stricken New Brighton seaside resort. The images evoke mixed feelings and thoughts from the viewer, stirring up sadness, humour and happiness but all the while, for me, a feeling of disgust. Not for the inhabitants of the photographs but their environmental surroundings, the dirt and grime and the pollution in the seas and on the streets which includes the buildings. For me, I wouldn’t have been able to frequent this place because of my fear of such a germ ridden and filthy environment, even looking at the photographs has my stomach churning and I keep looking around each image addictively, cringing as I do so. However, would I have thought differently back in the 80’s? These people do not seem to mind, they walk past, sit and lay in these conditions, paddling amongst the discarded waste.
What fascinates me though is the pure amount of people frequenting the resort. I now live in Lowestoft which is the most easterly town in the UK. We have award winning beaches and the town, although having many empty shops, is very clean but also very empty. There isn’t a huge influx of people even in the holiday season in fact the majority of people you will be able to see are those that live here.
A wonderful collection of images documenting the lost time of the Thatcher era. Reading reviews from the internet, this book, this series of pear’s photographs are either loved or hated. For me it is love, love for the characters within, love for the (now) historic perspective and the love of Martin Parr’s thought provoking, colour, flash, street photography. Superb!