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Roma of Skopelos

Beatrice Hamblett | Skopelos, Magnesia, Greece

Taxiakoula, Evangelia and their cousin at the Skopelos compound.

Each summer, a large extended family of Roma camp out in an olive grove on the island of Skopelos, Greece. Their family is vast and reaches into many large towns on mainland Greece. In May 2018, I drove into their compound and asked if I could photograph them. All summer, I visited the family frequently. Whether they were eating, sleeping, playing, working—all was open territory for photographing. With time, I learned this family, like all Roma, was tightly-knit, kept to themselves, inter-married, were traders, and spoke their own language. I was drawn to their different lifestyle and the ability of all Roma to survive despite centuries of oppression and exclusion. As the weeks passed, I realized I was privy to another aspect of their lives—the rich moments of family life shared through story-telling, celebrations, and laughter. In my photos I wish to celebrate this human side and dig deeper beyond the caricature. I hope to continue photographing this extended family as they celebrate daily rituals and special occasions—weddings, baptisms, funerals—throughout the year.

Why I Photograph Roma

I photograph Roma to show their humanity. To show the strength and pleasure of their commitment to family; their dignity in the face of centuries of oppression and present-day poverty. I photograph them because I am curious to learn more about how they live and why. My camera is my passport as are the photos I give them created in my tiny darkroom after each photo shoot. I work with the same extended family which lives on Skopelos Island, Greece and the nearby mainland community, Aliveri. Although this includes about 100 people, they know me and after two summers of photo-making, we share a mutual trust and friendship. I love particularly working with the young girls age 6 through 16 and I wish for them to have choices for their futures.


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Greek Embassy, Washington, DC

Greek Consulate, New York, NY

bhamblett@mac.com

beatricehamblett.com

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