Amateur Photographer - - 7days -

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. ★★★ ★★

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