The Story Behind Perry Ogden’s Pony Children
Within the wake of Simone Rocha’s Autumn/Winter 2023 present – which Perry Ogden walked in – we revisit an One other Man interview with the British photographer about his seminal 1999 collection Pony Children
This text was initially printed on AnotherManmag.com, on 18 March 2018.
On the primary Sunday of each month, Dublin city centre would play host to an nearly medieval occasion: the Smithfield Market. Right here, horses can be purchased and offered, and folks from the area people would collect to satisfy. It was a chaotic and noisy affair and, apparently, one which smelled strongly of horse sweat, urine and dung.
Right here, someday within the Nineteen Nineties – and amid these sounds and smells – British photographer Perry Ogden met the horse children: a mixture of Traveller and Settled kids from the general public housing estates that circle Dubin, who owned and rode ponies. Ogden was instantly fascinated. To him, they represented a fusion of Traveller and Settled tradition, old-world equestrian and modern-day youth tradition. They have been outsiders and – after the Management of Horses Act got here into impact in 1997 – outlaws. Despised and discriminated towards by mainstream society, they attracted the nickname “city cowboys” – although they maintained they have been truly the Indians.
Ogden returned many occasions to the truthful to doc the horse child tradition, photographing his topics towards a white background as formal portraits, creating photographs that he would later publish in a guide titled Pony Children (1999). Setting these black and white photographs alongside phrases from the horse children themselves, this guide is now a traditional in outsider documentary pictures and is extremely uncommon.
Right here, off the again of Ogden’s new guide Paddy & Liam, which is launching at DSM London tomorrow, Ogden displays on Pony Children and the way it got here to be.
“I got here throughout the horse children on the Smithfield Horse Truthful, the month-to-month horse truthful in Dublin. I went alongside and it was wonderful. I used to be launched to this tradition, these children primarily from the suburbs of Dublin proudly owning and using horses.
“What captured me was their vitality and enthusiasm; this assembly of Traveller and Settled tradition, of this previous tradition of horses coming along with Nike and Adidas sportswear. And their haircuts, too. It was fascinating.
“I went to the market each time I used to be in Dublin on the primary Sunday of the month. I actually wished to doc it, however to do it towards a plain background with mirrored gentle to seize the youngsters themselves; their garments and their haircuts.
“I’d go there early within the day and arrange slightly studio house after which begin strolling round, asking children to return and be photographed. By about 11 o’clock or noon, there can be so many individuals, children saying ‘Mister, Mister, get me on this one’ or ‘get me with this canine’ or hen or pigeon or no matter it could be.
“Later, after I went to interview the youngsters, they have been very forthcoming and had nice tales. They wished to inform me how they obtained concerned with horses, their experiences with them, and what was taking place.
“The council was attempting to cease [the culture] by introducing new laws. It turned about animal rights truly. But when they’d checked out the place these children got here from, the medication within the areas they have been rising up in – heroin had been creating havoc in Dublin for the reason that early 80s and it’s no higher now. In the event that they’d appeared on the state of individuals, relatively than simply the animals, they may have been capable of do one thing extra optimistic.
“One among [the pony kids] died in a motorbike crash very early on. Some went to jail and fairly just a few have died by now. One man, Niall Fitzgerald, remains to be using and attempting to qualify for the Dublin Horse Present. I noticed him in the direction of the tip of final 12 months. It could be attention-grabbing to see the place all of them at the moment are.”