Roberts, S. and Daniels, S. (2009) We English. (01 edition) (s.l.): Chris Boot.
Ray-Jones, T. (s.d.) A day off: 120 photographs. (1st U.S. Edition) (s.l.): New York Graphic Society.
Parr, M. (2009) The Last Resort. (Revised Edition) (s.l.): Dewi Lewis Publishing.
I’ve gone into this project with the idea of depicting how a place changes drastically during the visit of a travelling fair. At this time of year there are a number of fairs and feasts in Oxfordshire, where for two or three days a place becomes transformed. My initial intention is to remain neutral in my depiction this transformation (although I always think a travelling fair is a good thing), as there are alternative views. Generally there is disruption and noise, which some people will find intrusive.
There is an obvious link here to the idea of “The English at play”, a theme that has been explored very successfully by Simon Roberts, and in an older generation by Tony Ray-Jones. There is however a significant difference between a travelling fair and the activities depicted by these photographers. Apart from a few exceptions, these all refer to the idea of “going away”; people leaving home to visit somewhere else, a proper holiday or just a day out. With a travelling fair that “day out” comes to the people. It may be a change of scene and a chance for some fun but it is still their town or village. In a sense their home has acquired some temporary decoration, along with license to be carefree at least for a while.
This is the traditional view of a travelling fair and is still true, though much less so than in times past when little other entertainment was available.
The photographs here were all taken at Combe village feast in Oxfordshire.