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More Travellers’ Children in London Fields

June 28, 2013
by the gentle author

As I await delivery of copies of Colin O’Brien’s Travellers Children in London Fields that I am publishing next week, I am looking back upon those pictures which did not find their way into the book. Rather than let these stray images from this extraordinary series be forgotten, I am publishing some here as a taster of what you can expect from the book.

Click to buy a signed copy of Colin O’Brien’s book for £10!

“I came across the travellers whilst I was photographing a deserted warehouse in London Fields.  They had parked their caravans in and around Martello St near the railway arches by the station. This part of Hackney was very run down in the eighties.  The streets were littered with rubbish and many of the decaying Victorian terraces were being demolished.  The area was neglected and dangerous, with graffiti everywhere.

The travellers were Irish, mostly families with three or four children, living in modern caravans which looked extremely cramped but comfortable. On the first week, I started to take one or two Polaroid shots of the children which I gave to them to show their parents. Some of the parents then dressed the children up and sent them out for me to take more portraits.

I continued to take pictures over a period of three weeks and got to know some of the travellers well. They took me into their confidence and trusted me with their children.

When I returned to the site on the fourth week the families had gone. I was surprised, though I should not have been because this is what travellers do – they move on.  I had no way of contacting them, yet I was left with this set of pictures, and it was only when I started to print the negatives that I realised what an amazing set of photographs they were.”

- Colin O’Brien

Hardback copies will be on sale at £10 from 3rd July at the Bishopsgate Institute, Brick Lane Bookshop, Broadway Bookshop, Labour & Wait, Leila’s Shop, Newham Bookshop, Pages of Hackney, Rough Trade and Townhouse, Fournier St. Faber Factory Plus part of Faber & Faber are distributing Travellers’ Children in London Fields nationwide, so if you are a retailer and would like to sell copies in your shop please contact bridgetlj@faber.co.uk who deals with trade orders.

Photographs copyright © Colin O’Brien

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Travellers’ Children in London Fields

11 Responses leave one →
  1. June 28, 2013

    Would love to but Chorlton is a long way from London, still with your permission I could post the event on the blog, is there an image I can use?

  2. June 28, 2013

    These are the pictures that are NOT in the book? Wow! The book must be excellent

  3. Peter Holford permalink
    June 28, 2013

    If I lived closer I would come – if only to sample the Truman’s beer.

  4. June 28, 2013

    What a FANTASTIC series! I really wish I could just *blink* myself across the pond for this.
    Wishing all involved immense success with the launch and sales of the book… if THESE are photos that DIDN’T make it, I am certain it’s a great book!

  5. June 28, 2013

    Truly wonderful pictures Colin. Can’t wait for the book and the real ale!

  6. Lee Friend permalink
    June 28, 2013

    I use to live at nr London Field in the late 70′s / 80s. I remember their caravans at the other end of London Fields.

  7. Ros permalink
    June 29, 2013

    Yes so glad you reproduced these – there are some fine ones, the first one, the two little boys in the next one down and again with hands in pockets and nonchalant shrug, the girls with the so-old faces and the boys with the tipped-up pram. So many of them show real emotion, happiness, pride, companionship, and also the marks of a hard life. Hope to be there Wed.

  8. Cherub permalink
    June 29, 2013

    The little guy with the dungarees looks very sure of himself. I wonder what happened to him?

  9. neil martinson permalink
    July 2, 2013

    Brilliant photos.

  10. July 16, 2013

    These pictures are a sheer delight – so is the photographer’s brief relationship with his subjects. I was gifted a copy of the book and it makes me smile every time I pick it up… the children’s stances and body language are captivating… a far cry from the usual facing-the-camera scenarios. What fun you must have had, Colin! A book, and a body of work to be proud of.

  11. Maggie permalink
    January 3, 2014

    I wonder if these childrens’ grandchildren are now featured in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding?

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