A photograph from Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos
A photograph from Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Martin Parr turns his lens on Belfast

In a new exhibition the Magum President photographs Northern Ireland’s burgeoning tourist boom

Most cities hope to draw in tourists by boasting about their highlights. Yet visitors to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, are often drawn not by one, but two tragedies. The Titanic was built in a Belfast shipyard between 1908 and 1911, and in 2012, a century after the passenger liner sank, the city opened its Titanic Belfast Centre, attracting 800,000 visitors in the first year.

 

A photograph from Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos
A photograph from Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

The Troubles, as the region’s four-decade period of civil unrest are often called, are a somewhat more problematic addition to the tourist trail. Nevertheless, there are plenty of Troubles Tours on offer in the capital, enabling visitors to see some of the key locations and murals associated with this bloody period in recent history.

Lesser photographers might have dwelt on the grimmer side of Belfast’s past, but the Phaidon author and current president of Magnum Photos, Martin Parr, has, in a newly commissioned body of work, managed to delight in the sometimes farcical, yet deeply human side of the city’s leisure industry.

 

A photograph from Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos
A photograph from Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Welcome to Belfast, Parr’s new show in the city, opening at Belfast Exposed tomorrow, 14 October and on display until 23 December, documents the burgeoning revival of tourism in Belfast since the Good Friday peace agreement of 1998.

The photographer is familiar with politics and society south of the border, having lived in County Roscommon in the Republic of Ireland for a few years during the 1980s. However, this new selection of work proves Parr has an equally deft feel for fun and human folly in Northern Ireland too.

 

A photograph from Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos
A photograph from Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

To see more of this brilliant photographer's work take a look at our wide selection of Martin Parr booksincluding this definitive monograph and this fun food title, here.