Martin Parr: Unseen City exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Unseen City is a new body of work from documentary photographer Martin Parr which depicts the strange world of the City of London. For two years Parr was given unprecedented access to the City’s institutions and guilds. I must point out that when I refer to the City of London I am not talking about the City of 8 million people but the square mile which contains the financial district. The City of London has its own Lord Mayor of London which is not to be confused with Boris Johnson the Mayor of London.

Martin Parr Unseen City

Definitely lots of pomp and ceremony at Unseen City

The City of London is like a local authority (council) but the way it’s run is different from every other council in the UK. It is one of the world’s oldest continuously-elected local government authorities and is steeped in tradition dating back to medieval times. There are various guilds or companies like the Fishmongers company, which probably don’t have one fishmonger amongst them but they take part if all kinds of odd traditions, basically they are exclusive clubs. All of this makes the City of London prime for a bit of Martin Parr treatment.


Images in the show cover bizarre rituals like the Beating the Bounds which is a medieval custom carried out by students from the City’s schools where they hit the boundary of the city of London with sticks. I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition so you can peer into the the bonkers world of the City of London. Unseen City is at the Guildhall Art Gallery until the 31 July 2016, the entrance fee is £4. Just a stone’s throw away from the Guildhall Art Gallery is the Barbican gallery where Strange and Familiar, a Martin Parr created show, is currently on which is also well worth a visit. I’ve also written about Strange and Familiar on my blog.

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