Sophie Green / Gypsy Gold
The lives of horses and Travellers have always been strongly intertwined, going right back to the very origins of 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.
About Sophie Green:
I am a social documentary and portrait photographer based in London (b.1991).
My photography is a spontaneous, intuitive reaction to the ordinary – capturing unconventional beauty in its natural, everyday environment. I have a strong interest in British culture and communities who exist on the edge of society and marginalised people who are under represented and removed from the mainstream. I want to challenge the common misconceptions and judgements that can exist in our society and provide a platform for the subjects to tell their story.
I’m fascinated by imperfections in life, human vulnerabilities and our ability to overcome adversity – the re occurring theme throughout my work is the power of the human spirit. I’m intrigued by communities united together by mutual circumstance and by the glue that holds these individuals together. I believe that trust and respect are fundamental to the process of creating an emotional and revealing portrait. Many of my projects develop over several years in order to honour and respect the subjects’ lives and portray them truthfully through images and text. I want my photography to reflect a vision, tell stories and provide an insight that is not always accessible on the surface.
My photographs have been published widely including The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, VICE, Man About Town, Re-Edition, Victory Journal, i-D Magazine, LAW and more. I have been nominated as winner of the Magnum Photos Graduate Award 2015, selected for IdeasTap and Magnum Photographic Award 2014 including the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2015. My work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House and Houses Of Parliament.