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The Highland Life: Martin Parr’s Scotland

A new book from Martin Parr, the Magnum Photo member and long-time documentarian of cultural quirk and spectacle, gathers together 25 years of images from Scotland, land of kilts and caber tossing, mystical green landscapes and The Old Firm.

Think of Scotland is pure Parr. He has a sharp eye for slightly cutting images of everyday folks yet still manages to convey affection, like your quick-witted granddad who can’t help having a good-natured go. Also here are Parr’s famous food still lifes, his vignettes of daily life and his glimpses of telling details: the rough hands of a Highland Games competitor; the skeptical look on the face of a little girl observing a sheep-related event at an agricultural show; the tear-stained eyes of a young Glasgow Rangers fan attending the premature funeral of a childhood hero.

According to publisher Damiani, Think of Scotland represents one of Parr’s largest unpublished archives to date. Earlier this month, Parr told an interviewer that he’d traveled to nearly all of Scotland’s inhabited islands during trips he’s made since he was a student. He also noted how in many areas, time seems to pass slowly. “There’s not much visible evidence of actual change,” Parr said. That timelessness is evident throughout the book, with nothing but the captions to mark the years. It’s delightful to think that Parr’s Scotland might be waiting for the future traveler.

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