Judy Ford - Awarded The Joan Wakelin Bursary 2020

This Bursary was established in 2005 in memory of distinguished documentary photographer and Honorary Fellow of The Royal Photographic Society, Joan Wakelin. The Bursary is administered by The Royal Photographic Society in partnership with The Guardian and offers £2000 for the production of a photographic essay on an overseas social documentary issue. The essay is published by the Guardian and the portfolio printed by Metro Imaging and reviewed with their Creative Director Prof Steve Macleod.

Bursary Project: The women of the last remaining peasant communities in rural Romania

In the remote mountains of Northern Romania, a dwindling population of peasant communities maintains a way of life that has changed little for centuries. Many of the older women in these communities have experienced unimaginable life events, some of their life stories are heartbreaking and most live in isolation from their families. On an initial visit in October 2019 I visited several of these women and found that they have a captivating essence that inspires and fascinates me. They are strong working women who live a simple, frugal life in difficult conditions. They survive against the odds and maintain a positive attitude, showing a generosity of spirit that is rare to find in our society.

The bursary project will allow me to explore what makes this society work and what underpins the strength and resilience of the women that hold these communities together. The essay will look at women from three generations to reveal the differences and similarities in their values. By examining their experiences and their attitudes to life, I aim to establish whether there are lessons to learn from these women that have relevance to the challenges we face in our modern life.

Covid restrictions permitting, I plan to travel to Romania at the end of June 2021 to complete this project. Link to RPS announcement