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Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

From nanotech research to tortoise racing: photographing Oxford

Matt Pickles

Cutting-edge science research in gleaming laboratories. Undergraduates defending their essays to a world expert in the field in a tutorial. The tortoises who take part in an annual inter-college race.

This diverse group of people – and reptiles – are the stars of a new exhibition of photography by Magnum photographer Martin Parr.

Martin Parr: Oxford is a free exhibition that forms part of Photo Oxford 2017 (8 – 24 Sept) and will run from 8 September to 22 October 2017 at the Weston Library.

As part of the commission, Mr Parr was given access to many of the University’s most iconic buildings and events. He told Vice that he enjoyed the project.

“[Oxford] has everything. It has tradition, it's on the cutting edge of research, it's evolving yet staying still,” he said.

“It was meant to be one year's project; it became two years. I don't know how many trips I made there, 50 or 60. I could have gone on for ten years. Once you start digging, you realise the complexity of a place.”

‘Martin Parr has brought his unique viewpoint to the University and we are delighted to be able to show some of his images opening up Oxford at this free exhibition in the Weston Library,’ says Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian.

‘Martin strongly supported the Bodleian’s campaign to acquire the archive of William Henry Fox Talbot, who made the first photographic journey to Oxford in the 1840s, and I’m sure this new collection, looking at the many different aspects of Oxford life will be of huge interest to Martin’s fans, local residents, visitors and alumni alike.

'This is a rare opportunity to see work of a brilliant photographer who normally only exhibits at larger international galleries.’

A one day symposium featuring talks by the Photo Oxford 2017 artists will run at the Weston Library on Thursday 7 September. The publication OXFORD Martin Parr, by Oxford University Press, is available to pre-order online.