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New Brighton – mecca for photographers

19 August 2013 by Sam

photo of people on a beach, wearing warm clothing

‘New Brighton 1976′ © Martin Parr Magnum Photos

During a social evening on the opening weekend of Derby’s Format International Photography Festival a couple of years ago I mentioned in passing that I live in New Brighton. The reaction of one of my companions, one of the charismatic team behind Cardiff’s Third Floor Gallery, was fantastic – a shocked “You mean New Brighton is a real place?!”

In many ways New Brighton is no different from many other seaside towns. In its heyday it was a bustling resort with people outnumbering pebbles on the beach and in the outdoor pool. Those days are long gone though, leaving behind a funfair and an army of ice cream vans that have somehow clung on stubbornly through the quiet times. So far, so unremarkable. However New Brighton gained a degree of notoriety in the 1980s with the publication of Martin Parr’s ‘The Last Resort’. Controversial, in your face and unflinchingly honest, the book is now considered a classic. A mark of its influence is the number of photographers drawn to the top right corner of the Wirral to pay tribute, such as Peter Dench, who made the pilgrimage in 2011 on the 25th anniversary of the book’s publication. His account The Last Resort Revisited perfectly describes the sense of nostalgia for the recent past that keeps photographers coming back.  Read more…

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