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Sophie Green’s vibrant portrait of the British Traveller community

Gypsy Gold

Sophie Green (b. 1991) is a British social documentary & portrait photographer. Her work often explores communities drawn together by mutual circumstances, and the glue that unites these individuals together as a collective, including Afro hair salons, banger & stock car racing, Traveller groups and more. Green recently won the Creative Review Zeitgeist 2018 award and was selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018. She has photographed for Time Magazine, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Vogue and many more.

About ‘Gypsy Gold’:

The lives of horses and Travellers have always been strongly intertwined going right back to their very origins as Travellers. Whilst nowadays modern caravans have largely replaced the traditional horse and cart, the horse still remains an integral part of the Travellers’ DNA.

The main calendar events of the Traveller world are horse fairs, where horses are traded, girls search for husbands and family and friends from far and wide reunite. It was through this window that I was able to capture the nuances that comprise this colourful aspect of their culture. My shoots took me to regional horse fairs from Appleby in Cumbria, across to Ballinasloe in Ireland, all the way south to Wickham horse fair in Portsmouth. It was a surprising, compelling and beguiling journey.

I loved the vibrancy and showmanship of the fairs, they are totally mesmerising. Whilst shooting I often felt like I had gone back in time – incredible faces, theatrical outfits, traditional carts, gleaming horses, cockerel fights, singing birds and fortune-tellers. I became obsessed with small details – the fashion, makeup, eyebrows, hairstyles, market fakes, leather, bits and whips. The process was very organic and the series is a spontaneous, intuitive reaction to what I observed.

I didn’t want ‘Gypsy Gold’ to become a deep, meaningful, intellectual narrative but to simply record what caught my eye and made me smile. It’s a series of fun incidentals that come together to tell a visual story. I hope the series provides the viewer with a new understanding and appreciation of Traveller culture. For all the criticism that Travellers attract, I found plenty of gold.

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy GoldGypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Gypsy Gold

Time to read
3 min
Words by
Staff
Published on
25 June 2019
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