In 1998 while traveling around Europe, Hunter began this series of portraits entitled Travelers which focuses on the domestic environment of a contemporary nomadic group. Hunter’s concern with the political issues surrounding the rights of ‘squatters’, ‘travelers’ and those viewed as ‘outsiders’ is reflected in his choice and treatment of his subjects.
The Travelers series was taken over a two-year period in which time I was living and traveling in a double decker bus I had bought with a friend. We traveled in Europe from Portugal to the Czech Republic. At this time there was an underground techno sound system movement traveling in Europe putting on free parties and festivals. The underground dance culture, which started in the UK in the late eighties, following on from the US house music scene, became threatening to the British establishment as nearly all the music events “raves” were held outside the established club culture. Finally the British government decided to outlaw such events however small, and the lifestyles of groups of squatters and travelers. Once the law came into effect in 1994 large groups of travelers moved to Europe to continue their lifestyle and promote their culture.
The pictures I took during this period are of my friends and fellow travelers, in different parts of Europe as they traveled between festivals and raves. The spaces are their homes, vehicles recycled into new traveling homes, old lorries, buses, and coaches. They were meant to be an antidote to the very negative images that were being published by the press, which were nearly always in black and white and very grainy, making the subjects into victims of society or criminals and other than the viewer. My pictures are very colorful and try to show the humanity and the dignity of the subjects. By working with a large format camera and tripod, my subjects become collaborators in the artistic process. They had a say in the way they were viewed by the outside world, hopefully changing the way they are perceived in society.
Tom Hunter was born in Bournemouth, England in 1965, Hunter studied at the Royal College of Art and the London College of Printing. Yancey Richardson Gallery in NYC and White Cube in London show and represent his work. Additionally he has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Nichido Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. His talent has garnered an Irish Museum of Modern Art Residency, the John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award, as well as the John Kobol Book Award, and the Tredou Arts and Culture Award. His work is in collections at the Hirshhorn Museum, the Hackney Museum, the Saatchi Collection, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.