by Martin Parr, Oxford University Press, £30, 224 pages hardback, ISBN 978-0-19872-441-4
MARTIN Parr’s star has never been higher – he’s gone from being a controversial outsider, whose Magnum nomination was bitterly opposed by Philip Jones Griffiths, to a pillar of the British photographic establishment. So it’s fitting that Parr took on this project to photograph an academic year at Oxford University, an institution closely connected with the great and good of this country (or privileged elite, depending on your perspective).
As you’d expect from Parr, a wide cast of characters appear in the book, from students and dons to cleaners and gardeners. Parr has mellowed with age, so there is little of the biting satire on the class system you associate with his late-20th century work. He still delivers some classic portraits, though. This being Parr, formal meals are another rich source of inspiration. There are quite a lot of blander images, however, and some, of students in front of PC screens or dons in regalia, could have come from the university prospectus. ★★★ ★★