21st century Gypsies: Stunning pictures show how new-age travellers are now adopting traditional horse-drawn caravans
They were the inner-city youth who, fuelled by punk spirit, anarchist philosophy and a hate of Margaret Thatcher, clambered aboard a fleet of battered old vehicles to shun the trappings of the modern world for a life of nomadic freedom.
And while today”s new-age travellers appears to have taken the philosophy even further, preferring to use traditional horse-drawn caravans instead of gas-guzzling vans, they also appear to be embracing the modern technology like mobile phones, laptops and even Facebook.
During the late 1980s and 1990s stories about the travellers were commonplace – illegal raves, clashes with the police, drug busts and fury at the criminal justice act.
Many new-age travellers, including the Delany family (pictured) have ditched their battered old vans and adopted traditional horse drawn caravans, and have been captured in these stunning photos in a new book The New Gypsies, by Iain McKell, published by Prestel Publishing
Photographer Iain McKell took his first pictures of new-age travellers 25 years ago. His amazing pictures, including Corina and Anarchy Rose (left) and Dave (right) chart how the movement has changed
Middle-class youngsters, to the utter horror of their well-to-do parents, flocked to swell their ranks enchanted by the romantic lifestyle, lack of rules and wandering ways.
Their rag tag convoys roamed the land from festival to festival, illegal site to illegal site, often to the irritation of landowners and local law-enforcement.
And while little has been written about the New Age travellers in the past decade, the movement has far from fizzled out.
Photographer Iain McKell, who has followed a small group of travellers for over 10 years, has published a stunning new photo book called “The New Gypsies”, published by Prestel Publishing, charting the changes in their life-style.
Taking the traditional gypsy lifestyle as their template many have now ditched their motor vehicles in favour of horse drawn caravans.
Back to the future: Taking the traditional gypsy lifestyle as their template many new age travellers have ditched their motor vehicles in favour of horse drawn caravans
Throughout the 1990s the new-age travellers were associated with illegal raves, drugs and clashes with the police. But many appear to have curbed their reckless ways.
Ebony, left, was photographed in Fernhill Farm
Mr McKell told anothermag.com: “It began in 1986 with the New Age motor vehicle travellers called The Peace Convoy and then when I returned to Stonehenge Summer Solstice in 2001.
“To my surprise I found this new renegade tribe that had evolved to horse-drawn wagon but had all the modern technology as well – solar power, mobiles phones, laptop computers and off course facebook.
“I loved this idea of the old and the new working well together and the open road.
Fashion and social documentary photographer, Iain McKell took his first pictures of New Age Travellers 25 years and has been amazed at how the movement has evolved. Pictured here is Beanie.
Wandering ways: Looking like something out of a history book this traditional Gypsy caravan is now home to a proud new-age traveller called Bryony
Family ties: The travellers, including the Drury family, pictured, are a close-knit group and although many appear determined to shun the trappings of modern life they have kept up with modern technology using Facebook, mobile phone and the internet
People from all walks of life were attracted to the romantic lifestyle of the travellers from poor inner city youth to the sons and daughters of the rich and famous. The travellers here were photographed near Stonehenge at the time of the Winter Solstice
“This is a personal journey with new age modern travellers. The point being they have no history of Gypsy that’s what makes them interesting to me. That they have chosen to live by the road with horses keeping the tradition alive of really travelling and not staying in one place.
“They come from our culture so they are like us rather than the traditional travellers who are from different blood.”
The photographer, who is better known for his work in the fashion world, developed close relationships with many travellers including parents, children, couples and loners.
The New Gypsies by Iain McKell, with essays by Val Williams and Ezmeralda Sanger is published by Prestel and out now.
For more information about Iain McKell”s work log on to www.iainmckell.com in the UK, www.thomastrehaft.com in the USA, www.artsphere.fr in Europe.
Changing with the times: Like the gypsies of old, travellers are now preferring to use horse-power rather than petrol. Seen here is Mermaid on Hazel”s horse Pepper
A new-age couple sprawl out in the back of their ancient coach called the Peace Convoy in another of photgrapher Iain”s stunning pictures
One of photographer Iain McKell”s earlier pictures shows a top hat wearing traveller looking like someone out of a Dickens novel in front of an assortment of battered vehicles called the Peace Convoy. Many travellers have now adopted horse-drawn caravans
Raggle taggle gypsies: Nigel and Angie share a battered old makeshift tent deep in the English countryside
Photographer Iain McKell (left) has tracked and befriended a small tribe of New Gypsies for over ten years and his collection of pictures is available in his book The New Gypsies, which is published by Prestel Publishing