At the start of the year I made it over to Walsall New Art Gallery to see Martin Parr's latest exhibition 'Black Country Stories'.
In simple terms, it was fantastic.
I've always been a huge fan of Parr's work so to get to see a collection of images which focus on an area that I have an affinity to, was a pure delight.
The images are funny, touching, charming and instantly relatable. By focusing on the everyday, they manage to cover a huge range of the area's society. From pigeon fanciers and vegetable growers, to football fans, hairdressers and church-goers, Parr's ability to capture the everyday, the mundane and reflect this back at the viewer is a tremendous skill which is at the core of his appeal.
I also sat and watched a 20 minute documentary created by Parr on Teddy Gray's Sweet Factory in Dudley. It's an amazing insight into a business which has been using the same methods of business and production for generations. A family-run business to this day, it has, so far, managed to avoid using digital means for ordering and production. The film focused on the people within the business as well as the traditional methods used to create the sweets. The people showed themselves to be charming, devoted and passionate about what they do while the intricate and precise way they go about making the sweets is utterly mesmerising (the rock in particular!).
The New Art Gallery in Walsall is a fantastic space and all the staff and volunteers were extremely friendly and helpful, long may it continue exhibiting shows such as this one.
Black Country Stories will next be exhibiting at Wolverhampton Art Gallery from 23re May to 22nd August. I urge you to get down there.