Parrs grandfather encouraged his early interest in photography, and he studied at the Manchester School of Art. In the early 1980s, Parr produced a series of photographs of New Brighton, a run-down seaside resort outside Liverpool. The gaudy and sometimes grotesque imagery of these works seemed to reflect the spirit of Thatchers Britain, while echoing the tradition of tacky seaside postcards.
More recently, Parr has addressed themes of consumerism, mass tourism and globalisation with a distinctive wit and sense of irony. In Common Sense 1995-9, he uses bright colours and exaggerated close-ups to explore the excesses of contemporary capitalism. Motifs such as heads, hats, hands, food and dogs are repeated throughout, creating a snatched catalogue of our all too familiar shortcomings.