Irish Travellers are the most socially excluded ethnic minority in Great Britain to date. There are estimated to be approx. 20.000 in the country. They live on the outskirts of society and the peripheral existence reinforces a feeling of isolation. For a period of four years I followed the women and girls in the Stokes family. The Stokes lives in a house in Uxbridge, London. Irish Travellers have a long tradition for living on caravan sites, but more and more move into flats and houses, which separates them slightly from their own culture.
The girl has a very defined place in the culture. She is brought up under rather strict Catholic principles, get married at an early age, often taken out of school during the teenage years, and some are illiterate. The key point in a girl’s life is the marriage, which is followed by multiple pregnancies. The marriage itself is a huge dream for a girl. The dream is acted out in an almost fiction like space as a classical fairy tale. Lavish dresses, limousines, champagne, and plenty of flowers cost several thousand pounds. Irish Traveller girls are often dressed in sparkly, light clothes. However, just one generation ago women dressed modest, neutral and almost without color. The appearance has changed, but also inner qualities are changing. A nomadic lifestyle is vanishing and regularly religious practice subsides. Several girls have children out of marriage and more and more get divorced. Nevertheless, I experienced that the girls have a strong attachment to their ethnic group and still carries a catholic belief in the minds and hearts. The women and girls are very complex to define because they live in a time of transition to popular culture. The essence for me, however, is their direct energy, a living body language and a sensibility and depth I am trying the best to portray in my ongoing project.