In the United Kingdom, one is never more than 75 miles away from the coast. With this much shoreline, it’s not surprising that there should be a thriving British tradition of seaside photography. American photographers may have invented street photography, but according to photographer Martin Parr, “in the U.K., we have the beach!” Here, he asserts, people can relax, be themselves and indulge in mildly eccentric British behavior. Parr has been photographing this subject for many decades, in close-ups of sun bathers, rambunctious swimmers caught mid-plunge and the eternal sandy picnic. (His career, in fact, could be traced back to the 1986 publication of The Last Resort, which depicted the seaside resort of New Brighton, near Liverpool.) This compilation presents photos of beachgoers on far-flung shores, including those of Argentina, Brazil, China, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Japan, the United States, Mexico, Thailand and of course, the U.K. Published to accompany the launch of an exhibition at the Lyon Photo Festival, this book brings to the forefront Parr’s engagement with a cherished subject. Featuring a Japanese binding and a front cover embossed with a seashell pattern, each copy of this ultra-collectible publication contains unique, beach-related paper ephemera from Parr’s own collection. The photographs themselves are inserted in die-cut slots, and protected by glassine pages.
Martin Parr (born 1952) is recognized and admired internationally as a brilliant satirist of contemporary life. The author of over 30 photography books, including Common Sense, Our True Intent Is All for Your Delight and Boring Postcards, his photographs have been collected by museums worldwide, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern, London. His retrospective continues to tour major museums around the world since opening at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, in 2002. Parr is a member of Magnum Photos.