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A snapshot of life in 70s; Martin Parr's black and white photographs have echoes of a bygone era, JULIE CHAMBERLAIN observes.


AN exhibition of photographs from the late 1970s seems to have captured people's lives in a way that looks more like the 1950s.

It seems to have been as if punk, and many other things, never happened in the photographs of Martin Parr on show in an exhibition called e Non-Conformists at Compton Verney art gallery.

Magnum documentary photographer Parr took the pictures when he lived in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire Y from 1975-80, after graduating from Manchester Polytechnic. e black and white images area long way from the highly colourful photographs he is now known for, but he said that at that time, to be taken seriously, photographers had to work in black and white.

In Hebden Bridge he found a traditional way of life in decline, based around the non-conformist chapels, farming and factories which were going out of business.

It is not just the working class people who are photographed.

Lord Savile and his gamekeepers out with their guns out at the start of the grouse shooting season are captured on [euro]lm. But it is mostly the ordinary people of the area who are the target of the camera. Other animals appear in images of the pigeon competition and the Sowerby Bridge mouse show, where a man holds two on his [euro]ngers. In Hebden Bridge, Caderdale, a man stands, picture centre, perilously on one leg on a step ladder as he cleans a bit of dirt from the glass above his door which no one would be able to see. Mayor of Todmorden's Inaugural Banquet has a row of people diving for food on a well-stocked trestle table, and the wonderful Anniversary Tea, Boulderclough Methodist Chapel, Calderdale, has a hat-wearing woman eating below a picture of the Last Supper.

e chapel anniversary was a big aair, with people pictured putting up clean curtains in its honour, and in Annual Spring Clean in Preparation for the Anniversary Service, Crimsworth Dean Methodist Chapel, Calderdale, one man sits in the pews while another is silhouetted in the glass as he cleans the window.

Bored women sit in a factory in Redman's Weaving Shed, Scarbottom, Calderdale, and in a local tradition a man holds a cabbage aloft for the Auction of Harvest Produce, Pecket Well Methodist Chapel, Calderdale.

Some of my favourites were the sports shots, where there is no sport depicted; men sit, some in suits, on grass-overgrown steps to watch the rugby, and others stand in a sloping line in front of a corrugated fence to watch Halifax Town at football. Cricket "spectators" play with a ball instead of watching the real game.

ere are several outdoor church services, including a dog on a lap in the front row of one, and in ree Local Chapels Combine to have an Outdoor Service, West Vale Park, Halifax, Calderdale, there is the only sign of young rebellion as a boy hides behind the war memorial with a toy gun pointed at the worshippers. Some of the pictures seem great depictions of interesting people and lifestyles which were in decline, though others make the viewer feel we're intruding on people's privacy and being invited to wonder at their strange habits.


Steep Lane Baptist Chapel buffet |lunch, 1976

| In Caderdale, a man stands |perilously on one leg on a step ladder as he cleans a bit of dirt from the glass above his door Left: Martin Parr's photo-|graph of three local chapels combining to have an outdoor service in West Vale Park in 1975, while a boy hides behind the war memorial with a toy gun
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 10, 2015
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