Martin Parr: Black Country Stories

The Space

Black Country Stories is now on The Space – a joint initiative by the BBC and the Arts Council. The Space is a new on-demand digital arts channel that will help transform the way people connect with and experience arts, music, film and give artists space to innovate and experiment.

The images, stories and ambient sounds created through the work with Magnum photographers Martin Parr and Mark Power; South African photographer David Goldblatt; and author Margaret Drabble are being produced to create 40 beautifully crafted short films to include interviews with the artists and local people.

Currently Martin Parr’s films and images are being shown. You can see a listing of all Martin’s films on the The Space website.

Martin Parr’s work is close-up and intensely colourful. It is direct and uncompromising but also a respectful celebration of community life. Martin has visited factories, foundries, pubs, working men’s clubs, shops, markets, temples, mosques, churches, St George’s day celebrations, Royal Wedding street parties, horticultural shows, dog training classes and much, much more. The images capture and celebrate the unique mix of communities living in the area as well as existing, traditional Black Country life.

Mark Power finds beauty in the forgotten and overlooked and in people’s continued efforts to make the best out of what they have. He has documented the Black Country urban landscape and produced a series of pictures showing elegant footwear seen from pavement level against a backdrop of grey concrete and crumbling brick, while a sound installation turns the names used to describe the colours of make-up and tattooist’s dyes into a mantra-like poem.

Between May and July 2012, Margaret Drabble worked with women and girls from the Black Country to help them to record, through the written word, their stories and this work will accompany Martin Parr’s photographs. Margaret will visit Teddy Gray’s sweet factory in Dudley; Crossroads Café in Willenhall; Susan’s Hairdressers in West Bromwich; and Pat Gorman’s pork pie factory in Bloxwich.

In July and August 2012, South African photographer David Goldblatt produced portraits of ex-offenders from the Black Country at the scene of their crimes. These large format portraits and accompanying text, edited from interviews that Goldblatt will undertake with the ex-offenders, attempt to give us insights and some understanding of the lives and events that lead the ex-offenders to their crimes.

Black Country Stories is an innovative portrait of life in the post-industrial Midlands. It reinvents the creative documentation of working class Britain by artists from Humphrey Jennings, George Orwell to Bill Brandt. It does so through the unique connections between Black Country people and international artists enabled by Multistory, through a globalizing, diverse perspective and through its use of new technology to make and distribute the work.

‘Black Country Stories’ is a multi-commission programme produced by Multistory that invites outstanding artists to document and record life in the Black Country. Multistory is commissioning internationally renowned photographers, film makers and authors to tell amazing stories to celebrate, document and archive, in intimate detail, every day life in the Black Country.