The city of Atyrau, Kazakhstan, was my home for eight years. A small, rural town on the banks of the Ural River it has slowly grown into a city due to the discovery of oil reserves in the Caspian Sea. Despite development Kazakh traditions remain strong and culture is celebrated regularly throughout the city at annual events.
Republic Day is one of these events, a national holiday that celebrates the declaration of sovereignty of the Kazakh SSR from the Soviet Union on 25th October 1990 which subsequently led to Kazakhstan becoming an independent country in 1991.
This series ‘Republic Day’ captures the celebrations held in Atyrau’s central Makhambet Square. From an elderly gentleman, who out of respect, is given the best seat in the house for an outside musical performance to women elders sitting in the sunshine. Students in traditional costumes play local string instruments while children enjoy themselves playing a street game using sheep bones and swinging together on a large homemade swing.