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 will be 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 rotate.
‘Often described as a ‘chronicler of life’, he [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.
Copies of the A Year in the Live of Chew Stoke Village photobook are available from MPF here.
This is the first time Martin Parr’s work has been exhibited at the Foundation since MPF opened in 2017, with Martin Parr’s Black Country Stories.