Portfolio: Martin Parr

We don't like to be beside the seaside...
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The Independent Culture

The thing about tourism," muses the Magnum photographer Martin Parr, "is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it." And nowhere can that gap – which Parr has documented over three decades in his ongoing series "Small World" – seem greater than the beach holiday, where a few days of rain can ruin the paradisiacal ideal.

So why submit to the uncertainties of Mother Nature when you can build your own reality? It's something the Japanese are expert at, from indoor snow slopes to this artificial beach in Japan's southerly city, Miyazaki. "It's called the Ocean Dome, and when I took this picture 15 years ago," says Parr, "it was the biggest indoor beach and pool in the world."

Before the dome was closed in 2007, it spanned an area the size of four football pitches, allowing up to 10,000 visitors to lie on the sand soaking up the climate-controlled 30C heat, or swim in the 28C, salt-free water. The sky was always blue (thanks to the painted roof), and even the waves arrived like clockwork, once an hour. But perhaps most amazing was its location. "It was a kilometre from the beach – but the coast was deserted."

Small World will be showing at the Guernsey Photography Festival from Wednesday to 30 June ( guernseyphotographyfestival.com)