The Westway is, for most of us, a mundane slab of tarmac, merely a facilitator to get to another destination, connecting London to South England's motorways. But for a group of travellers, it's the roof that they call home.
Photographer Paul Wenham-Clarke spent many months gaining the trust of the community's leaders for unrivalled access to this otherwise closed world. His resulting portraits are intimate, arresting, and at times flamboyant.
Part of a unique culture so often stigmatised in the media, the travellers are under increasing pressure to move on. These images, woven with the photographer's written story, document a close-knit community as they fight to save their cultural identity.
Now available in a new book, Urban Gypsies, the introduction by Rachel Segal Hamilton reads: "These pictures show us that Traveller life is fundamentally about community. On-site, inside and outside blur, caravan doors swing open, kids play and leap, not a screen in sight. Freedom isn't just the freedom to escape – it's also the freedom to be together."
The work has been exhibited at The National Portrait Gallery, The Victoria & Albert Museum, Somerset House and St Martin-in-the-Fields Gallery. It has also been featured on the BBC2 Culture Show.
A professor of photography at the Arts University Bournemouth, Paul is an award-winning member of the Association of Photographers and a Fellow of the British Institute of Professional Photography.
"I have been a professional photographer for thirty years and have shot images for a wide variety of commercial and advertising clients, but in recent years I have concentrated on major documentary projects," Paul says. "These have predominantly been environmental portrait series focusing on current UK issues and are often produced in partnership with a charity."
Urban Gypsies by Paul Wenham-Clarke is published by Hoxton Mini Press, £17.95. Available from www.hoxtonminipress.com.