The Ceremony of Life is an upcoming exhibition of rarely seen black and white prints from world-renowned British photographer, Martin Parr, best known for his acerbic, bold, colour portraits charting the customs and peculiarities of British culture with wry wit and trademark unflinching gaze.
These early works – taken in the 1970s and early 1980s – reveal a gentler, less critical lens, unearthing a young photographer with superlative observational skills, passionate about capturing the unsung rituals of everyday life.
The exhibition, at Print Sales Gallery in London, features images from Parr’s first major series’ and photo books, including, Bad Weather (1975-1982), Fair Day (1980-1983) and Non-Conformist (published in 2013).
The rare monochromatic prints (Parr finally abandoned black and white photography in 1986) faithfully and tenderly chronicle the vernacular of people and landscapes across Yorkshire, Sussex, Dublin and the west coast of Ireland. His subject matter encompasses services at nonconformist chapels, locals caught in downpours, seaside leisure activities and teatime community gatherings both preserving and reframing the familiar.
Forty years after his first London solo show at The Photographers’ Gallery, Hebden Bridge and Beauty Spot (15 Dec 1977 – 10 Jan 1978), this exhibition presents a timely – and somewhat prescient – reflection of our national characteristics and values and offers a poignant reminder of Martin Parr’s distinctive and quietly humorous ability to preserve "the ceremony of life".
At Print Sales Gallery from 3 March until 23 April 2017.
Main image credit: Dingle Races, County Kerry, Ireland, 1983. From A Fair Day © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery