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Travellers Children In London Fields

January 10, 2021
by the gentle author

Our January sale ends tonight. All titles in the online shop are half price with the discount code JANUARY until midnight.

Click here to visit the Spitalfields Life Bookshop

Copies of Colin O’Brien’s TRAVELLERS CHILDREN IN LONDON FIELDS are included in the sale

“I came across the travellers whilst I was photographing a deserted warehouse in the London Fields area in 1987. 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 pictures.

I continued to take many more images 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. It was only when I started to print the images that I realised what an amazing set of photographs they were.

When I returned to the site on the fourth week the families had gone. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was – after all, this is what travellers do, they move on. I had no way of contacting them but I was left with an amazing set of pictures.”

Colin O’Brien

Photographs copyright © Estate of Colin O’Brien

Click here to order a copy for half price

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Pamela Traves permalink
    January 10, 2021

    These are Beautiful Pictures, but Sad. Thank You for this.??????

  2. January 10, 2021

    Despite all existing difficulties: Childhood is the most important asset!

    Love & Peace

  3. Jayne permalink
    January 10, 2021

    Love these photos, beautiful, where are they now?

  4. Ros permalink
    January 11, 2021

    These are really excellent photos. Colin O’Brien’s death is a great loss.

  5. January 14, 2021

    So pleased to see these photographs again from Colin. You’ve reminded me to take his book off the shelf and read it again!

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