Square Mile – looking for inspiration III

Interesting to compare Martin Parr’s New Brighton images with David Bailey’s East End and Jimmy Forsyth’s Scotswood Road.

I noted a paragraph in ‘The Genius of Photography (Badger 2010:162) commenting on Parr’s The Last Resort thus, ‘Photographs of screaming babies, children with ice cream on their faces, in a litter-strewn environment, led to Parr, a middle-class boy from Surrey, being accused of cynicism.’ I wondered whether there was a difference in approach between Parr, as an outside observer, and Bailey and Forsyth who were documenting their own environments.

Martin Parr

Unfortunately, the book was not available at the time of writing this entry. A full set of images (small reproductions only) can be found on the Magnum website at http://www.magnumphotos.com/Catalogue/Martin-Parr/1985/GB-New-Brighton-The-Last-Resort-NN147024.html (accessed 19 February 2016)

A summary and a criticism of one image can be found on the Tate website at http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/parr-the-last-resort-40-p11922/text-summary (accessed 19 February 2016)

Further commentary and some quotations from Parr himself at http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/8073/martin-parrs-last-resort (accessed 19 February 2016)

These images are shot between 1983 and 1985 on medium-format colour film, very saturated and using on-camera flash. Nearly all are people pictures. Most appear unposed, but Parr and his equipment can hardly have been inconspicuous.

I expect to revisit Parr in more detail in later assignments and later course modules.

David Bailey

There is a selection of East End images in Bailey’s Stardust (Bailey 2014:55-67)

We see grainy monochrome images from 1961 and 1962, showing mainly buildings (some still suffering war damage) with some people pictures, and  a group of semi-posed colour portraits shot for a Sunday Times Magazine feature in 1968

Jimmy Forsyth

See my previous blog posting at https://chasbedfordocablog.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/jimmy-forsyth/


All three sets of images would fit the “Square Mile” brief. I felt a better sense of connection from the two ‘insiders’, Bailey and Forsyth, than from Parr who felt more like a fly-on-the-wall observer. The posed portraits by Bailey and Forsyth had an air of tolerance or indulgence by the subjects for the ‘local boy with a camera’. With the Parr images, I felt more like an intruder or voyeur.


Badger, G. (2010) The Genius of Photography, How photography has changed our lives. London: Quadrille

Bailey, D. (2014) Bailey’s Stardust. London: National Portrait Gallery


Jimmy Forsyth

Some images on Amber Side Gallery at http://www.amber-online.com/exhibitions/scotswood-road?show_all=true

Amateur photographer, having lost one eye in an industrial accident, Forsythe documented everyday life and scenes in Gateshead during a time of change.

Plans were in the air for knocking Scotswood Road down. When they knocked down the Infirmary in 1954 a curious crowd gathered to watch. It was then that I realised someone should make a record of what was left of the community. For posterity’s sake. I had nothing to do, why not make a record of Scottie Road to pass the time? It would show future generations what we looked like and how we lived. (pull-quote from “Scotswood Road” via Amber Gallery website)

Relevant to Square Mile assignment. Photographs show street scenes and overall views, wider than those I have looked at so far for this assignment. Posed portraits are a bit self-conscious but show a connection with the photographer. Several photographs of fires and road accidents.

For future reference, a full set of (40,000+) images is held by  Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum.

Wikipedia entry is useful starting point for links and references.

Books of interest:

Anthony Flowers & Derek Smith, Out of One Eye The Photography of Jimmy ForsythTyne Bridge Publishing, Newcastle, 2002, ISBN 1857951565

Anthony Flowers An Innocent Eye: Jimmy Forsyth Tyneside Photographer[9]Tyne Bridge Publishing, Newcastle, 2013,ISBN 9781857952148

Scotswood Road, (with Derek Smith), Bloodaxe Books Ltd, Newcastle, 1986, ISBN 1-85224-014-8.

Jimmy Forsyth: Photographs from the 1950s and 1960s, edited by Anthony Flowers, Tyne Bridge Publishing, Newcastle, 2009, ISBN 1857951336.