Despite the fact that they have been a part of society for centuries, Travellers and Gypsies remain one of the most misjudged ethnic minorities on the British Isles. They face prejudice and bullying daily, while their culture has been relentlessly exotified in programmes like “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”. Mainstream media coverage enforces harmful stereotypes branding Travellers as voluntary unemployed, surviving on benefits and tax avoiding criminals and results in deep-rooted hostility towards the community and pervasive discrimination.

Although many Travellers on the Isles have abandoned their nomadic lifestyle - mostly as a result of forced sedentarisation implemented by governments and authorities - they still take pride in their Gypsy heritage, with family bonds and strong religious faith at the core of their identity. They are committed to their way of living and holding onto traditional values of the community.

One such element of Travellers’ tradition are annual horse fairs. They have a rich history in both in Britain and Ireland - some fairs date back to the 18th century. Horses have always played a huge role in Travellers’ lives - an old saying says that “Gypsy Gold does not clink and glitter, it gleams in the sun, and neighs in the dark.” Even with the arrival of lorries and trailers, Travellers’ relationship with horses remains strong. However, it’s not only colts and mares that you’d find at the fair. This gathering attracts all kinds of businesses, from fortune teller trailers and antiques dealers to clothes stalls and fast food trucks. Families and friends get together for a weekend, arriving from all corners of the country. Proud parents dress their children for the occasion - boys and girls wear immaculate tweed suits and satin dresses, carefully navigating around muddy fields on the outskirts of towns where the horse fairs take place. It is a celebration of Gypsy culture and one of the most important event of the year for many Travellers.

This is an ongoing project, so far documenting fairs in Leeds, Kenilworth, Appleby and Ballinasloe.

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