The Hepworth Wakefield is delighted to announce a new commission and major survey exhibition by British photographer Martin Parr.
The Rhubarb Triangle & Other Stories opens to the public on 4 February 2016 – 12 June 2016 and will be the largest Martin Parr exhibition in the UK since his Barbican retrospective in 2002, comprising more than 300 photographs that span the past 40 years.
A comprehensive overview of Parr’s work will be on display, from early Yorkshire-based black and white photographs of rural communities to his recent international examinations of consumerism. Drawing on the implicit themes of labour and leisure present in the new Rhubarb Triangle commission, the exhibition brings together photographs from multiple series and commissions to address contemporary global networks of industry and consumption. Key series to be exhibited include: The Non-Conformists, 1975-80; The Last Resort, 1983-85; The Cost of Living, 1989; Autoportrait, 1991-2012 and Common Sense, 1995-99.
The Rhubarb Triangle new commission lies at the heart of the exhibition and comprises a series of photographs taken over the last 12 months in an area of countryside known as ‘The Rhubarb Triangle’ between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell in West Yorkshire, which is famous for producing early-forced rhubarb. Parr’s photographs capture all aspects of the rhubarb business, from the back-breaking work of moving the rhubarb from field to shed, the freezing cold and exhausting labour of picking the vegetable by candlelight (or occasionally by head-torch), and the consumption of the rhubarb by coach parties and food tourists.
The exhibition presents a chronological overview of Parr’s iconic series of works.The Non-Conformistsand the Calderdale series, taken at the beginning of his career, reflect his experiences of living in and growing up in Yorkshire. After graduating from Manchester Polytechnic, Parr moved to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire where he embarked upon a project with his future partner Susie recording the disappearing communities around this small town. Parr was already familiar with Yorkshire from his early life, his paternal grandparents George and Florrie lived in Calverley in Leeds and he spent childhood holidays in the county, visiting Scarborough, Brimham Rocks and Bradford.
The Rhubarb Triangle & Other Stories will also include his acclaimed series The Last Resort, documenting the leisure time of the working class in the seaside town of New Brighton which contributed towards the transformation of documentary photography in Britain. We will also show Parr’s subsequent project, The Cost of Living, a photographic essay portraying the new middle classes of 1980s England at home, at parties and meetings, shopping, and going about their everyday life.
Parr’s investigation of cultural identity, aspiration and image is further addressed in the Autoportrait series, within which Parr presents himself as subject of studio portraits around the world. His increasing international work, photographing around the world for commissions or his own projects on themes such as tourism and beaches, is drawn together in two groups, Work and Leisure, to present the labour that produces the objects, food and environments that we consume, and the results of that often, ironically, uneasy experience of leisure time.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication on The Rhubarb Triangle featuring an essay by Martin’s partner, Susie Parr.