Martin Parr to create instant new exhibition at Port Eliot festival
People who attend this year’s Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall will stand every chance of being featured in a new exhibition by Magnum photographer Martin Parr.
Martin Parr’s rich colour photography has long revealed the character, eccentricities and humour which exist in everyday life. Now he will turn his attention to the life of a four-day festival, examining the goings-on as several thousand people converge to perform, work and relax alongside each other.
Martin Parr will spend the four days of the Port Eliot Festival shooting and documenting all aspects of the event at the ancient estate in south-east Cornwall. Along with his studio team, he will produce The Pleasures of the Immediate, an exhibition of around fifty photographs which will be evolving and updating constantly as the festival continues. The exhibition will take place in the basement of the house at Port Eliot, the oldest continually inhabited dwelling in the country.
Festivalgoers will be able to see Martin Parr’s pictures being processed and printed and will be able to buy photographs and signed prints. Besides being part of the exhibition, the images will be screened to the whole festival at the Martin Scorsese Paradiso Cinema each evening, before the nightly screenings of films chosen by the legendary director.
Martin Parr said “I very much like the premise of showing the photos to the people who are in them. There is no better, or keener, audience for a photograph than the sitters themselves and it is this basic conceit that will drive the exhibition. I have done smaller shows like this at the Venice Biennale, but nothing on this scale. We’re bringing in a big printer and a whole team of people to make it work; throwing everything behind this to make it exciting and constantly changing. I’ll be shooting and documenting the festival as it unfolds and people will have the chance to come and see themselves in the exhibition – and all of the other photos that I’ve taken as the weekend progresses. I started coming to Port Eliot Festival pretty early on, when I was invited to do a talk. I’ve had a relationship with the festival and the house ever since – it’s now a part of my summer calendar and I always look forward to it.
“I don’t go to many other festivals. Port Eliot stands out for me because it’s very laid back and it’s very good to look at. It’s quintessentially English, but quite international at the same time. I’m looking forward to roaming all over the place. I love the whole atmosphere of the House; it’s a real, very lived in aristocracy – a combination of charm and threadbare.”
Settling itself into the Port Eliot estate each July and with a capacity of only 5000, the Port Eliot Festival is a combination of books, food, music, art, comedy, fashion, films, flowers, wildlife and water. A highlight this year is the Martin Scorsese Paradiso Cinema. Festivalgoers will be invited to relax underneath the stars, some in specially designed Cadillacs, to enjoy nightly double-bills selected specifically by Scorsese for Port Eliot.
Other highlights include John Cooper Clarke delivering a limerick master class; Caitlin Moran; The Jim Jones Revue; Jon Ronson; Bellowhead; Peep Show co-creators and Four Lions writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong; Simon Garfield; Edmund de Waal; AC Grayling; Hanif Kureishi; Sir Peter Blake’s Art Bus; the Caught By The River stage, featuring British Sea Power, Andrew Weatherall, The Rockingbirds, Caitlin Rose and The Secret Sisters, DJ sets by Geoff Travis and conversations on aquatic music, endangered birds, rock literature and the underground music press; fashion happenings in The Wardrobe Department curated by Sarah Mower, with Luella Bartley and Barbara Hulanicki, Prof Louise Wilson of Central Saint Martins revealing her top ten fashion books; The Port Eliot Flower Show; wild swimming in the river Lynher estuary; children’s events by Rogue Theatre; and The Poetry Takeaway, which will see leading poets creating individual poems to order.
The House at Port Eliot has been lived in for over 1000 years. Augustinian monks were there from the year 937, while the earliest remaining evidence of a dwelling on the site is a 1500-year-old glazed tiled floor, dating from the late Iron Age. The Grade I-listed mediaeval priory and house were remodelled in the 18th century by renowned British architect Sir John Soane and sit in gardens and park created by landscape gardener Humphrey Repton, which stretch down to a secret estuary of the river Lynher. The House itself covers many centuries: there are 9th century foundations, 10th century walls containing 13th century lancet windows and the distinctive and ingenious 18th century design details of Soane. Today, Port Eliot is home to the 10th Earl and Countess of St Germans.
Port Eliot Festival – 21-24 July 2011. Full festival info www.porteliotfestival.com
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