Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, London, 2015 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

From 2014, renowned photographer Martin Parr spent two years documenting a colourful “hidden Oxford” with his characteristically witty and unflinching eye.

Commissioned by the Bodleian Libraries and Oxford University Press, Parr’s photographs capture the quirks of university life (both at work and at play) – things that are rarely accessible to the outsider.

Looking behind the scenes at Oxford rituals, ceremonies, and traditions that still hold significance today, Parr shows students’ antics at sporting events, clubs, and societies, as well as the core university activities of research and teaching.

We see college rowers throwing each other into a river following a competition. We get a glimpse of the Queerfest at Wadham College, Oxford’s largest student celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual culture. There’s a shot of students having a tutorial at the Ruskin School of Art. And we see Chancellor Lord Patten of Barnes with his page, Giles Wordsworth.

You can view the series at Martin Parr: Oxford, a new exhibition at Hong Kong’s f22 foto space gallery from 6 December 2019 until 15 February 2020. With a selection of 59 photographs, the show allows us to experience university life in one of the world’s oldest and most storied universities.

Chancellor Lord Patten of Barnes with his page Giles Wordsworth. Chancellor’s Court, 2014 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

Chancellor Lord Patten of Barnes with his page Giles Wordsworth. Chancellor’s Court, 2014 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

After the Summer Eights competition the winning team and often other college rowers are thrown into the river. Oriel College rowers, 2016 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

After the Summer Eights competition the winning team and often other college rowers are thrown into the river. Oriel College rowers, 2016 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

Simon Tsang, Custodian, Christ Church, 2016 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

Simon Tsang, Custodian, Christ Church, 2016 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

Tutorial, Ruskin School of Art, 2016 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

Tutorial, Ruskin School of Art, 2016 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

Queerfest, Wadham College, 2014 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

Queerfest, Wadham College, 2014 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Blindspot Gallery

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Tora Baker

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