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john lea: the english traveller | just human | photo series

John is 75 years old. After travelling throughout the UK for most of his life, he is now settled on a site with his wife.

"I'm a traveller, yeah."

"I'll tell you something. You don't get no more of them (cart)."

"It's like getting a wild bird and putting it into a cage if you look at it right."

"When I was younger, an old man said to me one day, 'You know this travelling about? This is finished'. I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'Well, when they got the sites built, the children will all go to the schools, and they'll grow up with the people around their houses. They'll be with the children, they'll marry into them, then they'll want to go into the homes, and that's the end of it. And it has done that, hasn't it?"

"Then they made these places like this, and they're like prisons to us. It's like a prison to me. It's like getting a wild bird and putting it into a cage, really, if you look at it right.

I've travelled about all my life until I come on here. I've been here about 10 years. I'm near enough too old to be able to do it - you know what I mean?

This site was built about 30 years ago, and I've been here about 10 years. All my mates, what we used to travel with, decided we'd come on here. Well, not on here, but different camps about. But I can't go up on the roadside and stay on my own, just me and my wife, can I? It's not safe now, is it?"

"Eight children kept me busy when they were younger, but I don't mind them now. I've got 20 grandchildren. My sons, some of them are about 50 now, I think. I used to work farm labour, potato picking and all that. Things like that - we travelled around to work. But now you see the machines doing all that; you don't see anybody doing it. Manual labour, they've done away with it, really, if you look at it. They've got a machine for everything."

'Just Human' started with a focus on Travellers and Traveller culture. However, as the project progressed, I began to meet people who do not call themselves such names but are also, in fact, not ‘house-dwellers’.

Each lived experience is unique. Every opinion, their own. This series showcases the lives of English Travellers, Irish Travellers, and Travelling Showpeople. While modern society doesn’t have space for those in the nomadic community. Travelling culture is changing - not necessarily for the better - and many feel trapped by the societal pressures forcing them to conform to more settled ways of living.

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