A four-year project documenting everyday life in the Black Country comes to an end this year as renowned Magnum photographer, Martin Parr, completes his work on Black Country Stories, which will be showcased at The New Art Gallery Walsall in a major exhibition. Martin Parr and Multistory would love you to join us at the preview.
Black Country Stories has taken Martin across the region visiting markets, temples, factories, social clubs, tea dances, dog training classes, summer fetes and many, many other places. Over the four-year period, Martin has created a photographic portrait and archive about many aspects of traditional and modern life in the Black Country. He has photographed tanneries, leather and spring factories, drop forge and ironmongery factories and made portraits of the people that keep these industries alive. He’s been to many places of worship that reflect the cultural diversity of the area; experienced a vibrant social scene in pubs, working men’s clubs and nightclubs; sampled traditional Black Country foods from gray peas to faggots, and the many curry restaurants. He’s also photographed supermarkets, high streets, weddings and baptisms and the many street parties during the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
This major exhibition at The New Art Gallery Walsall will feature 122 photographs as well as 400 archive images, oral histories and four documentary films made by Martin. The exhibition will also be shown at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in May, 2015.
The films enable Martin to tell more in-depth stories about some of the people and places he encountered. They include: Turkey & Tinsel, where we travel with JR Holyhead, a family-run, Willenhall-based, coach holiday company, on a November trip to the Midland Hotel in Weston super Mare, to celebrate Christmas with a group of Black Country pensioners; Tudor Crystal, based in Stourbridge, the last traditional multi-furnace company producing 30% lead crystal within a traditional glassmaking cone; Mark Goes to Mongolia, about pigeon breeder and auctioneer Mark Evans from Moxley and his trips to China and Inner Mongolia to sell his Black Country pigeons; and Teddy Gray’s Sweet Factory, the story of Edward Gray and Betty Guest, the brother and sister proprietors of Dudley-based traditional sweet making factory, famous for their Black Country herbal tablets.
To coincide with the launch of the exhibition, Multistory and Martin Parr are also releasing a photography book, produced in partnership with Dewi Lewis Publishing, that features images from the exhibition. The book will be available to purchase at the preview and during the exhibition.
The project was commissioned and produced by Multistory and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Sandwell Council and Arts Council England. The free exhibition opens to the public on 4 October, 2014.