Words and Pictures at The Watershed

How can pictures tell a story without words? How can words grab attention without pictures? This age-old debate was given new life in Bristol on 7 June when John Simmons and acclaimed photographer Martin Parr stepped up to the mic – for the West of England Design Forum.

What emerged were two very different approaches to storytelling. Martin’s photos – that chronicle the Great British holiday, the finery of English cupcakes and ‘the last space’ in supermarket car-parks – often shine a new and obscure light on familiar scenes and private lives. While much of John’s work focuses on teasing-out the stories that lie hidden within large organisations.

One of the most poignant examples of this was John’s recent position as writer-in-residence for the London Underground. In an environment dominated by timetables, performance targets and health and safety – John inspired staff to write short stories, poems and even a novel in a series of creative workshops.

The evening (which was a sell-out) was a great reminder of the power of creative storytelling – by two of the best in the business.

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