Martin Parr In Scaborough

Big Ideas By The Sea brings iconic images Back to the East Coast
May 29, 2023

Big Ideas By The Sea (BIBTS) is an annual festival that is held each May in Scarborough.

Internationally acclaimed Magnum photographer Martin Parr, Photo London’s Master of Photography for 2023, is showing four of his iconic English resort bank holiday photographs at the Princess Café, Sandside, Scarborough, during the Big Ideas by the Sea festival. The photographs were originally commissioned by Invisible Dust, a Scarborough-based art and environment organisation, as part of the Offshore: Artists Explore the Sea exhibition during Hull UK City of Culture 2017 at the Ferens Gallery.

Big Ideas By The Sea (Image: Tony Bartholomew)

The photographs, which can be seen in the café until Monday 5 June, show families enjoying the bank holiday, the pirate ship and sailing boats in the background on the famous Scarborough beaches. They represent his signature style of photography with wonderful humour, emphasising the personalities of those he photographs through their bright coloured clothing. 

Parr has had a long-standing interest in photographing people on British and Irish beaches, often with signature ‘Brits on the beach’ moments such as the newspaper over the face or people eating ice creams. He likes the context of beaches due to the possibility of people relaxing and being playful.

They are being shown at Princess Café which is a wonderful example of a classic 50's style seaside fish and chip café. The Sunday Telegraph published a photograph taken by Martin Parr in the Princess Café in 1986 and so the café is both a fitting and unusual location to show this work. 

Scarborough South Bay - Martin Parr

Martin Parr says: “I’m a great fan of Scarborough and return again and again. There are so many places: the beaches, cafes and the Cricket Ground which are great to photograph people in and show how much fun people have on their holidays. I'm delighted to show these photos in the Princess Café and in Scarborough for the first time.”

John Oxley, co-director of Big Ideas By The Sea, says: “Martin Parr is without doubt one of the most famous photographers in the UK. Showing his work during the festival is a real coup. He has agreed to this unusual location due to his previous connection to the café and the fact some of the people in his photographs may well have eaten fish and chips there all those years ago!”

Alice Sharp, Artistic Director of Invisible Dust, says: “We are thrilled to enable people in Scarborough to see Martin Parr’s wonderful August Bank Holiday photos for the first time. They show families on Scarborough’s much loved South Bay beach, which features in so many people’s holiday memories. For many children coming from cities such as Leeds, Bradford and Manchester the beach is the first place that they connect to nature and the sea.”

Big Ideas by the Sea is supported by the Yorkshire Coast BID.

Header Image: Scarborough - Martin Parr