Sussex gypsies, travellers and showmen will share their life stories and family photographs in a new touring exhibition which starts today.
The Heritage Lottery-funded event is the culmination of a 19-month oral history project by Brighton charity Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT).
Liz MacPherson, Heritage Lottery Fund Project Officer at FFT, said: “We want to bring to life the history of some of the most interesting and vibrant communities in Sussex which have long been marginalised and out of the wider public view.
“This exhibition is a deeply personal insight into the lives of the gypsy, traveller and showmen communities of Sussex and their often overlooked place in the shared cultural heritage of the area.”
More than 20 people took part in the project, sharing stories and life histories with volunteers.
Photographs spanning the last 100 years will go on show alongside interviews which are arranged into themes such as language, childhood, work, and accommodation.
Excerpts from the exhibition include participant Marya Sadouni talking about what it was like growing up: “The boys, the young boys would sleep in the tents.
“The girls, it would be either in a girls’ trailer or it would be where your mam and dad is, they’d be in one bed and you’d be in another if you were younger.”
Other memories include summers spent fruit picking, horse drawn wagons on Ditchling Common, old recipes, and traditional stopping places.
Participant Chris Penfold-Brown said she hoped people would learn about the way travellers and gypsies used to live before coming off the road.
She added: “It’s important to keep our ways alive, so my people don’t fade into the background, and to try and allow people to understand that not all gypsies are thieves and vagabonds, just as not all Muslims are terrorists.”
The exhibition opened at the West Sussex Records Office, Chichester today and will be open until March 20.
It will then be at Worthing Library from March 21 to April 3, Eastbourne Library from April 4 to 14, Stoneywish Farm, Ditchling on April 15 and Jubilee Library, Brighton from April 17 to 26.