o begin with, I feel it relevant to tell you something of my background in photography and how I come to be here in the first place. I started taking pictures, at the end of the 70's. I wanted to communicate something of what it was like to be a young rootless "Traveller". Because I was one. I began to record more aspects of life on the road. There is no stereotype of a festival goer or traveller that is truly representative and so the project grew to take this into account. Gatherings in the open air with music are probably as old as anything human beings have ever done. The 'Pop Festival' became a more modern manifestation of peoples desire to gather and celebrate. We are social animals. Alongside the commercial events, 'Free Festivals' developed. People were fed up with the exploitation, rules, squalor and general rip-off that so many events came to represent. They discovered something. It is a powerful vision. People lived together, a community sharing possessions, listening to great music, making do, living with the environment, consuming their needs and little else. People looked at the various examples provided by gypsies here and in Europe; to nomadic people across the world. To try life outside the house in many different ways and to pick and select those means that make life comfortable, easy and
meaningful. The 'bender', the Indian 'tipi', the Moroccan 'yurt', the Romany 'bow top', the western two-man tent, the truck and the double decker bus. Many developed a sense of common purpose and identity. There was an acceptance that modern life was too fast, expensive and polluting to the environment. We had discovered Anarchy in action, and it worked! People began working out and managing relations within 'our' communities, without reference to Them.The temperature had been rising for some time. Assisted by the representation in the press and their invention of the 'Peace Convoy', a moral panic was created. The papers were full of the shock horror that we have come to expect. The Sun's - "Gun convoy hippies attack police" (No mention of gun in the article!). The News of the World contributed - "The Wild Bunch Sex-mad junkie outlaws make the Hell's Angels look like little Noddy". These were headlines read my millions of people and made modern day `folk-devils' out of essentially peaceful people. Towards the end of the 80s a cultural phenomenon began to emerge around the country resulting in an injection of new blood and economy to the festival scene. Rave parties were similar to free festivals in that they were unlicensed events in locations kept secret until the last possible moment. Such events offered
similar opportunities for adventure and began attracting huge numbers of young people from the cities. This scene grew dramatically. Where some of these parties differed from the free festivals was that they were organised by groups such as Sunrise who would charge an entry fee and consequently make large amounts of money in the process. Not all such rave parties were of this nature however, and the free festival scene began to merge with the rave party scene producing a hybrid with new dynamism. Not everyone on the free festival scene was pleased with the consequences of this festi-rave fusion however. Indeed, the outcry following events like Castlemorton provided the basis for the most draconian law yet levelled against alternative British culture. Just as the Public Order Act 1986 followed the events at Stonehenge in 1985, so the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill began its journey in 1992, pumped with the manufactured outrage following Castlemorton. By the time it reached statute two years later, it included criminal sanctions against assembly, outdoor unlicensed music events, unauthorised camping, and `aggravated trespass’. The news-manufacture used to prepare the public palate for the coming law was incessant, with media descriptions of Travellers and partygoers including “hordes of maraud-
ing locusts” (Daily Telegraph), and “These foul pests must be controlled” (Daily Mail). The Criminal Justice Act at large criminalizes diversity and dissent and thus has implications for the wider population such as say Trade Union activity and local protests about services (the hospital, the bypass, the local factory etc.). Fundamentally, many of its provisions are about land rights. What one can (and cannot) do on land. Which is of course, nearly always someone else's. I believe that the communities described represent genuine endeavours in discovering enduring and sustainable ways of life and conducting experiments in how we and the planet may survive. I wish them well in these uncertain times.
Please, don't let the bastards grind you down!
E: email@example.com W: http://alanlodge.uk Copyright © Alan Lodge 2019 Nottingham. UK
lan Lodge has specialised in social issues photography for more than 40 years. Resolutely independent, he primarily shoots stock for his own photo library, rather than working to commissions. Much of his work centres on the increasingly visible control that the state exerts over our lives and choices. Social conflict, policing, and environmental protection are documented, often through coverage of protest and 'direct actions'. He has special interest to document the lives of travelling people and those attending Festivals, Stonehenge etc, what the press have often describe as 'New Age Travellers'. Another current moral panic of interest is in issues surrounding immigration and 'multi-cultural Britain'. With his pho-
tography, he has tried to say something of the wide variety of people that are engaged in 'Alternatives', and youths' many sub-cultures and to present a more positive view. He has photographed many free and commercial events and has in recent years, extended the body of work to include dance parties ('rave culture'), gay-rights events, environmental direct actions, protest against the Criminal Justice Act and more recently, issues surrounding global capitalism. A post-graduate of Nottingham Trent University with an MA degree in Photography. He is a documentary photographer, a photojournalist and â€˜storytellerâ€™ always on the lookout to cover the different strands of such related issues. He is based in Nottingham, UK
A 'photo-essay' describing the lives of what were once called New Age Travellers and the Free Festivals scene.