“I love clichés,” says Martin Parr, so his new book Think of Scotland, is expectedly accented with tartan and cans of Irn Bru, plus “all the things you would expect to see in Scotland: Highland games, the kilt, Scottish dancing, the food. All the things you associate with Scotland in terms of clichés are things that I like,” he says.
For over 25 years, Martin Parr has been taking photographs in Scotland. From the streets of Glasgow to an island agricultural show in Orkney, Parr has built a huge archive of photographs. This body of work – Parr’s largest previously unpublished archive – weaves together some of the expected visual iconography of Scotland, such as highland games and stunning landscapes, but all with a Parr twist that makes the expected look so unfamiliar.
On the lure that keeps calling him back to the country, Parr explains that the beauty of some areas – and the energy of others – so different from his usual surroundings is at the core of the appeal. “Firstly, it’s a very beautiful country, and second the people are great – very friendly, the social scene is very interesting,” he says. “It’s different from where I live in Bristol; it’s rougher and more engaging and quite dramatic. That difference really appeals to me.”
Parr’s view is as comprehensive as one could make, through a quarter of a century of study. As well as the major cities – “very intense” Glasgow and “beautiful” Edinburgh – he’s obsessed with the inhabited remote Scottish islands. “I’ve been to a great majority of those and ticketed them off,” he says. “There’s something magical about an island where it’s all contained, and that really appeals to me.” Continue reading.