The leading British documentary photographer Martin Parr will open his foundation in Bristol to the public, starting at the end of October with a show of his works, Black Country Stories (25 October-January 2018). The Martin Parr Foundation will provide access to his growing collection of photographs by fellow British and Irish photographers, including Chris Killip, Tony Ray-Jones and Roger Mayne and images of the UK taken by international photographers, such as Bruce Davidson and Gilles Peress. Parr established his foundation three years ago, but the part sale and part gift of 12,000 photobooks to the Tate, announced last week, means that the purpose-built space in Bristol’s Paintworks complex, which has a studio, gallery, library and archive space, will be able to organise exhibitions, host seminars and welcome researchers.
“I knew I wanted to open the foundation but I had to save up enough money first,” Parr says. The part purchase of his photobooks by the Tate, thanks to support from the Art Fund and Luma Foundation, made this possible. Parr adds that the time required to organise museum loans of his photobooks was becoming “an issue” and says that that the Tate will be able to catalogue the collection and he hopes continue lending widely. The Tate plans to dedicate a room to Parr, The Times newspaper reports.
Parr decided to set up his own foundation, “because I don’t believe the V&A and the Tate believe in documentary photography as I do”, he says, adding that photography has been downgraded at the Bradford branch of the Science Museum and access to Birmingham Library's collection is reduced. He joins an exclusive club of photographers to have done so: Cartier-Bresson in Paris and Mario Testino in Lima. Parr’s foundation will work with the University of the West of England. Graduates of its newly established MA photography course will have their final show at the Bristol gallery.
Next spring Parr's foundation will show the work of one of Parr's early collectors, fellow Magnum photographer David Hurn. The exhibition Swaps, which Parr organised for Photo London in May, will go on show in his foundation next spring. Hurn created his collection by exchanging works with the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Bill Brandt, Martine Franck and Bruce Davidson. One of the few works Hurn purchased was an image by Parr from his graduation show. Hurn paid £5. He has given his collection to National Museum Wales. Swaps opens at the National Museum Cardiff on 30 September (until 11 March 2018), the inaugural exhibition in its first gallery dedicated to photography before heading to Bristol.