Oriel Q - Queens Hall Gallery, High Street, Narberth, Pembrokeshire, SA67 7AS [t] 01834 869454 Manager: Lynne Crompton
Videos expanding on the lives and conditions of the people depicted in Tina and Annemarie's photographs
Photographs by Lewys Canton
Assorted ceramics and jewellery by students and well-known artists
Lajos Bea Anastazia
The Roma are Europe’s largest landless minority. They have no country, a barely recognised flag; they are among the poorest, most isolated and most disenfranchised people on the planet. Our homegrown Gypsies and Travellers share the same roots. They originated in India, were dispersed to the west by migration, slavery and war, suffered enforced settlement, assimilation, prejudice and murder in the Holocaust.
Today, they survive mostly on the margins. In Hungary, where the tarmac ends the Gypsy settlement begins. In the UK, they live on overcrowded sites or by the roadsides, desperately seeking non-existent pitches in an attempt to keep their culture alive whilst grappling with the challenges of a modern world in a digital age. They all belong to the same ethnic group – Romungro, Olah, Kalderash etc. Gypsies, Romany, Travellers, Scottish Gypsy Travellers etc. – yet they are significantly distinct with wildly differing ideas and aspirations. It is precisely this lack of consensus which renders them powerless for if they were to unite the sparks (of freedom) would surely fly and we, the gorgias (settled people) would be forced to find a way of responding to them and their culture with more understanding, acceptance and humanity than we have been able to muster so far. Such open hostility towards them, corroborated by recent brutal forced evictions and many local councils failure to implement new site provision (funded not by them but directly by central government) plus the ballyhoo around immigration from fellow member states of the European Union – Romania and Bulgaria both of which have large Roma populations, substantiate an appalling record to date.
Our work, this ‘Gypsy book’ attempts to counter the old wives' tales and overwhelmingly negative opinions of the settled community, most of whom have never even met a Gypsy, that neither do they eat nor steal children, have three heads or turn milk sour with a sideways glance. They do, however, have an extraordinary intuition and powers of seeing, particularly pertaining to themselves. That envisioning is made all too easy when attitudes towards them have remained fixed for centuries.They fear that, in all probability, nothing will change – at least not at any time soon.
The catalogue showing all the images in the exhibition, plus sizes, can be seen by clicking here.