In 1992 Martin Parr immersed himself in the rural Somerset village of Chew Stoke, situated on the outskirts of Bristol, where he spent a year documenting village life. This resulted in an early Parr body of social documentary photography and was originally a commission for The Telegraph Magazine.
The Telegraph Magazine featured the project over 16 pages in 1993, and an exhibition of the work was held at the Chew Stoke village hall. This is the first time the work has been shown in 30 years, and the exhibition brings together an archive wall featuring over 250 images from the project alongside large exhibition prints.
Several villages were shortlisted to be the subject of the commission, and Chew Stoke was selected because it met all the criteria to make it a traditional English village; it had a shop, village hall, pub, post-office, church, and schools – the key establishments around which village life rotates.
Often described as a ‘chronicler of life’, Martin Parr is renowned for capturing his unique view of society in a way that enables us to view things that seemed familiar in a completely new way. His work in Chew Stoke is just that; at first glance it may seem to be just quintessential English village life, but Parr’s images bring a sense of ‘human-ness’ to those photographed that makes it easy to form an understanding and connection to the area and the community of Chew Stoke.’ – Dianne Smyth, excerpt from A Year in the Life of Chew Stoke Village published by RRB Photobooks, 2022.
This book is composed of images from Martin’s time spent in Chew Stoke in 1992 and includes text from Robert Chesshyre. Through the book gain an insight into the delicate social structure of Chew Stoke and the individuals who make the village what it is.
This new collaboration between RRB and Martin Parr is lavishly printed and includes over 40 previously unpublished images from the 1992 project. A new text by Diane Smyth brings the work into a 2022 context both as documentary work and as a piece of Parr’s long and varied career.
Presented as a luxurious cloth hardcover, the edition also includes 50 special edition copies. This special edition includes two 10×10″ archival pigment prints, signed and limited, of the images ‘Chew Stoke Bowls Club’ and ‘Cricket Players.
A Year in the Life of Chew Stoke Village is the culmination of a yearlong project in which Martin Parr immersed himself in the goings-on of a rural Somerset village on the outskirts of Bristol. At a time when house prices had fallen sharply across the country, and young people were struggling to afford to stay in the village, the influx of newcomers had brought slight tensions across the community. However, during the colorful summer parties, the nights spent drinking at the local pub, and the many celebrations in between, Parr was able to build connections with the villagers, gaining access to all the village events over the year and an understanding of the people that live there.
Martin Parr is one of the best-known documentary photographers of his generation. With over 100 books of his own published, and another 30 edited by Parr, his photographic legacy is already established.
Parr also acts as a curator and editor. He has curated two photography festivals, Arles in 2004 and Brighton Biennial in 2010. More recently Parr curated the Barbican exhibition, Strange and Familiar.
Parr has been a member of the Magnum agency since 1994 and was President from 2013 – 2017. In 2013 Parr was appointed the visiting professor of photography at the University of Ulster. Parr’s work has been collected by many of the leading museums, from the Tate, the Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Martin Parr established the Martin Parr Foundation in 2017. In 2019 the National Portrait Gallery in London held a major exhibition of Parr’s work
titled Only Human.
Martin Parr: A Year in the life of Chew Stoke Village
19 Jan – 09 Apr 2023
Martin Parr Foundation – Bristol – UK