Conference: Photography and Britishness

Martin Parr, New Brighton, England, From The Last Resort, 1983-85 © Martin Parr, Magnum Photos, Janet Borden

Photography and Britishness

November 4–5, 2016, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT

This two-day international conference investigated the various ways in which ideas about Britain have been communicated, inflected, and contested through the photographic image. It considered how photographs can mirror, reinforce, or interrupt what constitutes “Britishness” in national, local, imperial, colonial, and postcolonial contexts. Papers covered a wide range of international perspectives from the nineteenth century to today. The conference incorporated a panel discussion with practitioners, and delegates were able to sign up for breakout sessions in Yale’s special collections. 

A Forty-Year Photographic Journey Through Great Britain

Keynote Lecture: Martin Parr
Friday, November 4, 2016

Martin Parr has taken photographs around the globe, but the one subject he continually returns to is Britain. In this talk he explained his journey from the early days of shooting black-and-white photographs in northern towns to his current project depicting the British establishment, in places like Oxford University and the City of London. He has photographed all social classes in all corners of the United Kingdom. His project is even more pertinent today, as the Union is potentially set to unravel following the “Brexit” vote in summer 2016.

This conference was co-organized by the Yale Center for British Art; the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London; and the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California. The event was live streamed, with the exception of the keynote address. The recorded proceedings can be accessed for free in the online journal British Art Studies Issue 4—Conference Proceedings: Photography and Britishness.

Conference Materials