Seaside photography, a conversation with Martin Parr, David Hurn and Simon Roberts

26 April 2018

Talks, Exhibitions

Join Martin Parr, David Hurn and Simon Roberts at the National Maritime Museum in London, to discuss the role of photography in documenting British culture and their approaches to capturing the seaside.

View the exhibition, The Great British Seaside: Photography from the 1960s to the Present, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

Date: 17 May 2018
Time: 5-8pm
Price:  £15 (£12 concession), includes admission to the exhibition (booking essential)
Address: National Maritime Museum (see below) 

Click here for more information and to book.

About the exhibition: The Great British Seaside: Photography from the 1960s to the Present

This major photography exhibition, celebrating the nation’s love affair with the seaside, features over 100 works by four of Britain’s most celebrated photographers: Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts. The exhibition will showcase photography from their archive collections, as well as negative contact sheets and video footage. It will also feature 20 new works by Martin Parr, commissioned by the NMM for The Great British Seaside, which were taken in the summer of 2017. The new photographs focus on the thriving and diverse resorts of London’s ‘local beaches’.

The Great British Seaside documents a quintessentially British experience. It covers the country’s beaches from Brighton to Blackpool, and captures the traditions, customs and eccentricities associated with them including iconic beach huts, deck chairs, fish ‘n’ chips and donkey rides. Whilst the fashions and styles of each era give tell-tale clues of the decade, the activities and traditions are amusingly consistent, reappearing throughout the six decades covered in the exhibition, alongside the familiar sight of Brits determined to enjoy their day out, whatever the weather. 

Each photographer brings their own distinctive approach to capturing both the changing and unchanging nature of the British seaside experience, holding up an affectionate and often humorous mirror to a great British tradition. 

The photographers:

Martin Parr
Martin Parr’s skill for taking ordinary situations and making them extraordinary is best seen through his seaside photographs: he is a self-proclaimed ‘aficionado of the British seaside’. His fascination comes from the apparent separatism and a preserved lifestyle that the coasts of Britain have from the rest of the country, which produces the quirks of Britishness replicated in few other places. His photos, often amusing and sometimes uncomfortable, offer the viewers a glimpse at the peculiarities and absurdities of British beach culture.  

Tony Ray-Jones
In the late 1960s, it was Tony Ray-Jones’s fear that England was losing its cultural identity to encroaching ‘Americanisation’ which made him turn his camera to the beaches of England. With his wife Anna, he travelled across the country in a camper van, making it his mission to record the English traditions that fascinated him so much and which he saw as a disappearing way of life. His most famous body of work, A Day Off: An English Journal was published posthumously, following his untimely death from leukaemia at the age of just 30.

David Hurn
David Hurn’s diverse and exemplary career has seen him photograph pop-culture icons, stills for major films, fashion shoots and even international conflicts, after accidentally falling into photojournalism in the 1950s. Hurn’s remarkable body of work shows both the changing and unchanging face of the English and Welsh coasts through meticulously observed black and white photographs. From a collection spanning from the 1960s and still growing today, his work reveals his own love for the subject, with images of different generations and cultures brought together through the British seaside experience.

Simon Roberts 
Like Tony Ray-Jones before him, Simon Roberts’s dedication saw him travel around the country in a motor home with his wife and child in order to record pastimes on Britain’s coast for his series We English (2007–08). For his series Pierdom (2010–13), he emulated the 19th-century photographer Francis Frith by documenting the last remaining British pleasure piers using a large-format field camera. Images from both collections, along with photographs from his most recent book Merrie Albion (2007-2017), show our changing relationship with the seaside, both socially and economically, and feature as part of the 21 works by Roberts in the exhibition. 

The exhibition is sponsored by Wall’s.

National Maritime Museum,
SE10 9NF  

Picture copyright: GB. England. Dorset. From West Bay. 1996. © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos.