Martin Parr casts eye over Black Country life

A picture is worth a thousand words – and a new exhibition in Wolverhampton certainly has a lot to say about the Black Country.

A picture is worth a thousand words – and a new exhibition in Wolverhampton certainly has a lot to say about the Black Country.

Renowned photographer Martin Parr spent a year documenting life in the region to create a stunning display of photographs showing real-life in the Black Country, in all its glory and in some cases its gritty reality.

Martin Parr’s Black Country Stories has opened at the Light House Centre, in Fryer Street, with an array of photographs taken across the area by the Magnum Photographer.

In total Mr Parr took more than 660 photographs charting modern day society and the cultural make-up of the area to create a portrait of Black Country life.

Around 60 images are on display at Light House with the rest held by Sandwell Library.

The work was commissioned by Multistory, a local community arts organisation, and captures and celebrates everyday Black Country living and working.

Mr Parr, from Bristol, photographed local factories such as Teddy Grays Confectionary, in Dudley, local markets, shops, gurdwaras, temples, mosques, churches, restaurants, cafés, clubs and pubs, weddings and cultural celebrations from West Bromwich’s St George’s Day parade, Easter and Vaisakhi.

He will continue to develop the Black Country stories project over the next three years visiting Walsall in 2011, Wolverhampton in 2012 and Dudley in 2013.

The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the New Art Gallery Walsall, Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage and Dudley Museum and Arts service.

He will also be at the Light House to present a talk about his distinguished career and his work looking at the subjects of everyday existence on July 27 from 6.30pm until 7.30pm. The talk will cost £3 although the exhibition is free.

The showcase of photographs is open to the public now and will be there until September 30.

Digital marketing assistant Steph Jennings, aged 30, from Wednesfield said: “It’s a brilliant exhibition of life in the Black Country and people outside the area would instantly recognise the pictures as being the Black Country.”

During the project Mr Parr followed a Black Country Tours booze cruise around Black Country pubs and saw a whole new side to the region.

Mr Parr said before starting the work he had only ever been to Wolverhampton, but had been astounded by the cultural mix and diversity in the Sandwell area. He said: “We started out looking for factories, shops, pubs, really day to day life.

“It is an area in decline, we all know that the traditional Black Country industries are slowly disappearing – there are still some of those left, we found a chain maker, but it is a shadow of its former self, but the new input that the new communities and ethnic groups have brought to the area, the Polish, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and the temples in this area are phenomenal.

“That became an integral part and what we wanted to document.”

The photographs will be accompanied by an oral archive of audio recordings to bring to life the unique humour and attitude of the Black Country.

By Shaun Lintern

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Comments for: "Martin Parr casts eye over Black Country life"


So traditional Black Country life and heritage is Gurdwaras, Temples and Mosques? I must be missing something.

Lone wolf

There is no place quite like it in the world !

I had to leave the area, due to marrage in the late eighties,( and have lived all over the Globe ) but travel back now every other week during the football season. And its always a pleasure.

In the last 23 years it has changed in so many ways.

The cultural diversity that now exists in the Black country is more in harmony than that of many other areas.

Its a pleasure to mix and speak to folks that are either new to the area, or are first or second generation black countryonians.

All of whom add to the flavour of this unique area that dosn't have strict boarders or frontiers ; But if you feel Black country, then you are black country ! ( Case in proof: Take in an away-day with the Punjabi-Wolves. An experience you will fondly remember for a long time )( if you are a Wolves fan )

Its a tragedy that alot of our unique industry has disappeared, and with it old ways and traditions, but this place of old and new will never die due to the fact we are all proud ( in our many different ways ) of belonging to it.

michael collins

Only one problem.Wolverhampton is NOT in the Black Country.


Some of the stuff here is as bad as "Curry is the British national dish" we seem intent on sticking multiculturism and Political correctness down people's throats. Wolverhampton isn't Black Country, by the way. I was born and bred in the Black Country and I'll admit, other cultures have made an impact and are part of the history from the 60's onwards BUT there's a lot more to the Black Country, it's history and traditions than temples, gurdwaras and Mosques! And if people from outside the area think everyone lives in harmony, they've been on the Bathams!

Lone wolf

I was born and bred in the Black country too.

Before muticulturism and political correctness were invented, but even then, when we all were the same colour, religion and working class backgrounds, we never lived in harmony as i remember it.

When we look fondly back the Sun always seemed to shine.

Being afraid of change is a human responce we all have, but things do change and always will; Whether we like it or not. How we deal with it depends on the person we really were to start with.

If you broke your leg, would it matter who mends it ?

I like curry and roast beef but never tried Bathams. And i dont think i ever will.