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The Non-Conformists features Martin Parr’s first major body of work from the mid-1970s, published here for the first time in book form. A wonderful and charming surprise for Parr enthusiasts and fans of traditional reportage, this body of black-and-white imagery predates the cutting color work that earned him his fame in the 1980s. In 1975, fresh out of art school, Martin Parr found poor footing in the London photography scene, so he moved to the picturesque Yorkshire Pennine mill town of Hebden Bridge. Over a period of five years, he documented the town in photographs, showing in particular the aspects of traditional life that were beginning to decline. Susie Parr, whom he had met in Manchester, joined him in documenting a year in the life of a small Methodist chapel, together with its farming community.
In words and pictures, the Parrs vividly and affectionately document cobbled streets, flat-capped mill workers, hardy gamekeepers, henpecked husbands, and jovial shop owners. The best Parr photographs are interleaved with Susie Parr’s detailed background descriptions of the society they observed.
Signed by Martin Parr
Who knew Parr started his career taking thoughtful black-and-white pictures of small town life in England? "The Non-Conformists" was Parr's first body of work after graduating from art school in 1975. But among the images of sheep grazing, grouse hunting and churchgoing, are glimpses of the humor we now so strongly associate with Parr.
The New York Times Magazine
Beginning in 1975, when he was just out of art school, Martin Parr started a five-year documentary study of a fast-disaperring culture in the Yorkshire mill town of Hebden Bridge, England, and the surrounding areas. He was soon joined by Susie Mitchell, an aspiring writer he'd met as a student in Manchester, and who eventually became his wife. As she explains in the introduction to the book "We started tentatively to document things that seemed to be deeply traditional, or in decline, or both." Nearly 40 years later, Martin Parr has finally compiled the images in a book. His photographs of farmers, mill workers, coal miners, game keepers, shop owners, henpecked husbands and other subjects are interspersed with stories Susie Parr wrote at the time about some of those same people.
This is a lovely and melancholy book.
The New York Times Book Review