Billed as a private view I thought the event would give a sneak peek at his Black Country commission and was surprised when it was a retrospective of his work.
The talk was a bibliography of his work and his travels. Mr Parr confirmed that as an artist he revels in the cliches and the worst of society. When his photographic style and choices were questioned as portraying people in a patronising light MP defended his position by attacking the intention behind every family photo to present a smiley, united front rather than the dysfunctionality of real life. Where many walk on eggshells over photographing people in the public domain this grey area is clear cut for MP who sees it as his mission to portray the truth of the situation by snapping life as it is without any gloss. In this case should MP's critical social portrait offer a more rounded context? Whilst his work may be accurate reflections, are his intentions as honourable in his choices of subject matter?
The final project and book plug shared before the Q&A was a 15 year project in the making that turns the mocking eye onto MP himself. Whilst Portraits collated MP's studio snaps from around the world it is most interesting as a documentation of the evolution of portraiture techniques. However one can't help but feel that MP is mocking the taste levels of the studio photographers by again seeking out those he deems are worst of the genre.
MP's presentation of his work didnt leave me convinced that his critics aren't right. I'll reserve judgement till I see how he captures the spirit and uniqueness of my home county.