In 2012, Crossrail announced plans to build their new railway and shaft through a 32-year-old gypsy and traveller site on Eleanor Street in Bow.
In a petition to Parliament, the gypsy and traveller community state the move is “stressful” for the elderly, and that they face an “uncertain future for their children”.
These children have now visualised their experiences as part of Cranes, Trains, Plots and Shots, a youth-led photography project which started in June 2013 and culminates this month with an exhibition at Rich Mix.
The project was open to children aged four to 13, and is a moving document detailing the change in their environment and home life. Old and young, the travellers feel the weight of Crossrail. Elis is a seven year-old who took part in the project. “It’s upsetting because we have to leave our home and I don’t want to leave people behind,” he says.
The exhibition aims to break down the ‘negative stereotypes’ that exist towards this community. Despite their unique situation, what is clear from the photographs is that the children are like any other children in London, having fun with their friends and making the best of their circumstances.
“We have been taking photos of what we like, our friends, our home, our dogs to show other people,” explains Elis. Asked if taking the photographs were important, Elis replies: “It is very important because photos are on the news. With photos you can show people things, you can show people where you are.”
Perhaps without them realising, these childrens’ work is an empowering depiction of the community’s hopeful future.
The Crossrail project may have fractured and displaced the gypsies and travellers, but these photographs are proof children can articulate their thoughts positively, which in turn can only keep their community together and make them stronger.
Cranes, Trains, Plots & Shots is at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA until 12 July