Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gothic Arches Challenge: Gypsies

Shrine 1: Shave Green

When freedom is taken away
The Flower of life shall wither
And none but those weeping
Shall be found on the face of the earth

Sven Berlin - Dromengro: Man Of The Road

I've only just discovered that his week's Gothic Arches challenge is Gypsies. As it happens, there is a work in my gallery that is a Gothic Arch, if rather a large one. The piece is actually a 120cm x 120cm light box.
Shrine 1: Shave Green commemorates the Romanies and Travellers of the New Forest in Hampshire who, for centuries, enjoyed tolerance and free movement. From 1926 they were forced to live in seven restricted compounds where, despite oppressive and unsanitary conditions, they formed remarkable community settlements. The locations of the compounds are now regarded as secret and sacred places, treasured by many Romanies and Travellers. The late, great, Mr Len Smith, Romany scholar and political activist, took me to the beautiful Shave Green site, where I took these photographs. He also introduced me to the work of artist Sven Berlin who befriended and lived amongst the New Forest Gypsies.
The young girl was Dosha Wells, a New Forest Romany whose descendants still own the coral necklace.

This work is dedicated to the memory of Mr Len Smith, British Romanies and Travellers who are still fighting to be given equal respect amongst other ethnic minorities and my own Romany and Traveller friends and forebears of whom I am deeply proud.


  1. Great arch and thanks to you for your wonderful story. Cheers from Marie aka Ozstuff (at DAQ).

  2. Thanks for the enlightenment even as it brings me sadness. Child in photo is so precious, aren't they all.