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Photographs by Martin Parr and Tom Wood on view at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool
Tom Wood, Every Man and Woman is a Star. ©Tom Wood.

LIVERPOOL.- From young couples kissing on a dingy dance floor to the faded grandeur of a seaside town, an exhibition of work by acclaimed photographers Martin Parr and Tom Wood examines the early influences of both men and finds a compelling beauty in the ordinary.

Every Man and Woman is a Star runs at the Walker Art Gallery from 11 May to 18 August 2013 and features more than 20 prints from the gallery’s own collection, including one of the earliest known photographs by Parr in a public collection (New Brighton, 1976).

Parr and Wood embarked on their careers at a time when the perception of photography was shifting. At the start of the 1960s it had been the eccentric face of the London fashion world; the visual language of advertising, and a middle-class hobby. Parr and Wood were amongst the first photographers to turn their cameras on modern Britain, elevating everyday life into fine art.

Charlotte Keenan, Tomlinson Curator of works on paper said: “Taken between 1976 and 1987 the emotive photographs in Every Man and Woman is a Star convey the similarities in the work of Tom Wood and Martin Parr, who are old friends, as well as their differences.

“The photographs are an important part of the Walker’s works on paper collection. They represent a significant period for photography, which was finally establishing itself as a fine art, as well as the changes in society for both the local area and on a wider scale.”

Parr’s images span the period 1976 to 1983 and predate his change to colour film. They respond to his desire to document the world around him before it disappeared, illustrating many of his enduring interests including leisure, consumerism and community. These continue to influence his work, which he describes as ‘subjective documentary.’

Included in the exhibition are a selection of Parr’s images of the west of Ireland, which reveal the modern face of American investment, as well as the unusual customs and traditions of a vanishing community. There are also several images of the patrons of Yates’s Wine Lodge, Liverpool, some of his last work in black and white.

Wood photographed the area and people of Merseyside for more than 20 years, earning himself the nickname ‘photie man’. The photographs on display were taken between 1980 and 1986.

Wood’s photographs are the result of chance encounters. From fellow passengers on a bus, claustrophobic scenes in a nightclub, and well-kept suburban gardens, there is a voyeuristic quality about the work.

Each of Wood’s images documents the moment it was taken, but cumulatively they form a record of the region’s past. However, his work is more than a photographic archive; for Wood it is firmly fine art. Indeed, he has said, “What’s more conceptual than spending twenty years photographing a bus journey that should take twenty minutes?”

This exhibition forms part of the LOOK/13: Liverpool International Photography Festival which launches on Friday 17 May and will see dozens of photographic exhibitions and events taking place across the city.

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