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Arts, Culture, Heritage, Education
Arts Council of Wales project gets the green light!
The Romani Cultural & Arts Company is proud to announce two new exhibitions of works by the artists Cas Holmes and Dan Turner. This exciting installation of specially commissioned artworks is the latest in our groundbreaking Gypsy Maker project—an initiative that supports the development of innovative works by established and emerging Gypsy, Roma and Traveller artists. The Gypsy Maker project expands the work of the RCAC by continuing to engage GRT communities with the wider public in ongoing dialogue about the ways in which art continues to inform the lives of individuals and communities today.
Cas Holmes trained in fine art and currently works with textiles and mixed media. She is the author of several books for Batsford Publications including Stitch Stories (2015) and Textile Landscape: Painting with Cloth (2018). As part of her practice Holmes works on community collaborations developing a range of projects based on environmental themes from the natural and observed world. The transient nature of Holmes’ work and process underpins her compulsion to engage with our built and natural landscapes—with people and place. The overlooked details of daily life which reveal commonalities across communities continue to inform her particular take on the world.
‘The opportunity to work with and be mentored by the Gypsy Maker 4 project allows me to pause to reflect on my identity and mixed heritage. With migration, changes in our working lives and increasing opportunities to travel, certainties about who we are and our place in the world is in flux.’ Cas Holmes
Dan Turner is an artist and educator. A Romani Gypsy, born in Dartford, Kent, Turner achieved a BA Hons Degree in Sculpture from St Martins School of Art. His work recently appeared in FUTUROMA at the Venice Biennale in 2019. By using Transactional Objects which have significance across cultures, Turner examines how Gypsy, Roma and Traveller cultures meet and interact with the dominant culture. Working with migration maps of Roma diasporas and using traditional crafts and occupations such as peg and wooden ﬂower making, and fortune telling Turner re-imagines Roma past, present and future to challenge mainstream culture’s view of our Roma identities.
‘Working with the RCAC on its Gypsy Maker project provides a unique opportunity that is rarely available, especially to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups. Its approach of tirelessly commissioning ground breaking work and projects has helped promote understanding about GRT communities. In the process it has changed people’s lives, including mine.’ Dan Turner
‘‘I am very excited that the work by Cas Holmes and Dan Turner will be exhibited in the Rug Art Gallery in Queen St in the centre of Cardiff in March and April next year. Many thanks to The Romani Cultural & Arts Company for organising it.’ Jenny Rathbone, Aelod Cynulliad | Assembly Member
“The pioneering work of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company in supporting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller artists is unparalleled. Their Gypsy Maker project is unique worldwide in commissioning new bodies of work by GRT artists thereby enabling the production of new knowledge from an underrepresented group and thus making a valuable contribution to international contemporary art and cultural discourse.” Dr Daniel Baker
‘Here at RUG we are very pleased to exhibit new artworks by Cas Holmes and Dan Turner as part of the Gypsy Maker 4 project. We look forward to expanding the reach of the works and our gallery through this collaboration with The Romani Cultural & Arts Company in 2020.’ John Abell, Director, RUG.
The Romani Cultural & Arts Company invites you to see the works and meet the artists at the opening of this new exhibition by Cas Holmes and Dan Turner.
Benefiting the public: Our project ambitions and our aim of reaching and benefiting the broadest audience possible will form part of a robust marketing and audience development plan. This will include an aim to engage with disadvantaged and disengaged audiences with a particular desire to dispel the anti-Gypyism prevalent within mainstream society. Im order to make the resulting exhibitions and materials as accessible as possible, we will work closely with all venues to ensure that all sectors of society can access the work. All venues are DDA compliant and will provide interpretation panels, large print guides and other resources. We will support with direct handling tours. Our project will be delivered within the context of a bilingual nation and will be of benefit to Welsh identity and the Wales' contribution to the cultural context of the United Kingdom. The project will put Wales on the cultural map for GRT art.
This project is designed to challenge and overcome the ignorance and prejudice relating to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people living in Wales by raising the profile of GRT artists and engaging the wider public in celebrating GRT artistic practice and the personalities behind it. This project leads the way in the UK and beyond by adding to the bank of GRT art work in Wales which has been established by RCAC with its previous Gypsy Maker initiatives. GRT artists state very firmly that apart from that which the RCAC is generating with its Gypsy Maker project there is no existing or planned sustainable bank of GRT art in the UK.
Racism and discrimination are legislated against by national government (Race Relations Act and the Amended 2000 Act) and are now widely recognised as anti-social and detrimental to community cohesion. However, there remains much evidence in the everyday lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people as well as in academic reports, that racism against these communities is still perceived as socially acceptable.
The following quotes explain why and what affect:
Go to most museums, libraries and schools and nothing about their history and culture is displayed or taught. The result is a widespread ignorance about who they are, an ignorance which on occasion turns to hatred, fear and misunderstanding. In schools, children learn more about the Romans, Vikings or even fairies than they do about Gypsy, Roma and Traveller cultures and what they have contributed to this world. As a result they are misunderstood, feared and loathed.
Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month, www.grthm.co.uk
The two groups identified as the most threatening- asylum seekers and Travellers - were the only groups with whom most interviewees had had no contact
Understanding Prejudice, Stonewall, 2004
Nearly 9 out of every 10 children and young people from a Gypsy background have suffered racial abuse and nearly two thirds have also been bullied or physically attacked. This is who we are, Children's Society, 2007
The Welsh Government are working hard to prioritise policy and practice that improves outcomes and engagement for Gypsies & Travellers. The Welsh Assembly Government's own report on the accommodation needs of Gypsy and Traveller people (Niner, 2006) spoke of Gypsy and Traveller people having 'distinct demographic and economic characteristics' and being one of the most socially excluded groups in Britain. It also spoke of the extent to which that social exclusion was reinforced by their experiences of discrimination. The 2011 Travelling To a Better Future framework has further strengthened the national focus on Gypsies & Travellers and their role in wider society. The more recent 'Enabling Gypsies, Roma & Travellers Plan' aligned with the 'Prosperity For All' Strategy drives forward with enhancing the community participation of Gypsies & Travellers. Our project will promote and marry well with these national policies and strategies.
The Welsh Assembly Government's Single Equality Scheme (WAG, 2009) identifies, at 'High Level Statement 29' the need to help voluntary sector organisations that support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people.
There are many established and engrained pre-conceptions and negative ideas about the GRT community. This project will challenge these pre-conceptions and equally significantly, increase knowledge and public awareness of the dynamic, long-standing (yet hidden) heritage of artistic endeavour and creativity within Gypsy, Roma & Traveller peoples. We are excited as an organisation about this project and its scope for adding value and colour to the cultural and artistic landscape of Wales and beyond. Gypsy Maker 2017-18 stimulated many questions and saw audiences engage with the vibrancy and depth of GRT-created art. We know that Gypsy Maker 4 will do this and more again.
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