Monday, 3 January 2011

Sophie Gerrard: The Coal Cycle Wallahs

"I load the bike then push it for 50 kilometers. It takes me 2 days."
Here's The Coal Cycle Wallahs story; the work of Sophie Gerrard, a British freelance documentary photographer in the UK and India who specializes in environmental and social issues.

The Coal Cycle Wallahs documents the impoverished men who haul coal along Jharkhand's steep and twisting forest roads. As the Indian Government owns all the resources under the land, these coal-wallahs are technically stealing the coal from mines...but the authorities turn a blind eye.

Jharkhand is a state in eastern India, carved out of the south Bihar in 2000. It shares its border with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal. It's home to the largest coal belt in Asia, but is been plagued by poverty, lawlessness, bad governance and corruption for over 50 years. It has experienced Naxalite-Maoist insurgency.

Sophie holds a Masters degree in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the London College of Communication. Her work was recognized with a Jerwood Photography Award and selected as a UK winner by The Magenta Foundation.

Her clients include The Guardian, Greenpeace International, Geographical Magazine, Foto8 Magazine, The Big Issue, and The Independent on Sunday Magazine. Her photographs are held in private collections including Coutts & Co and The Sir Elton John Collection.