AN amazing insight into the real lives of Gypsies and Travellers living in Lincolnshire has been revealed by a new arts project.
Real Gypsy Lives: Bigger. Truer. Happier. is the result of months of
work with young people by the Lincolnshire Traveller Initiative using £48,000
provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
LTI staff joined forces with artists to give around 10 young people
aged between nine and 24 from the Gypsy and Traveller community the opportunity
to create their own poetry and prose and to learn the skills needed to talk to
their elders about their lives and traditions and record the conversations.
The result is a fascinating portrait of the reality of life inside one
of the county's most marginalised communities in the 21st century.
David Lambert of Lincoln-based cultural solutions UK, which has
co-ordinated the project on behalf of the LTI, said: "This has been an
incredible journey. We have had to work so hard to gain the trust of a
community which is understandably suspicious of 'outsiders' and we acknowledge
how brave some members of that community have been in choosing to work with us.
"The results are quite stunning. We have learnt so much about
traditions around food, work, education, the role of women and more from the
older people, while the young people have produced some incredible pieces of
poetry and prose which, we hope, will give the 'settled' community an insight
into the challenges and joys in their lives.
"People have shared stories with the young people as interviewers
about subjects as diverse as how they choose schools for their children and the
increasing importance of a good education to how to catch and cook a hedgehog
the traditional way – although the young people certainly weren't keen on
dining on one."
The results of the project, which include a book documenting the
interviews and showcasing the young people's writing, a professionally-made
documentary film, an audio CD, photographs, a touring exhibition and a new LTI
website will be unveiled at a special gathering at the Gordon Boswell Romany
Museum in Spalding on Wednesday February 27.
An education pack, which will be used in Lincolnshire schools and is
based on the work the project has produced, will also be launched at the event.
It is aimed at children aged seven to
English, art, craft, history, discussions and other classroom activities
contained in the pack will help to raise awareness and understanding of Gypsy
and Traveller lifestyles.
Paul Boucher of the LTI said: "This project has been a wonderful
extension of the work we do with Gypsy and Traveller children and young people
across Lincolnshire on a regular basis.
"It was inspirational watching the young people's confidence grow as
they carried out this very important work capturing the details of their lives
so that they can be shared with the wider community and, particularly, with
other children in Lincolnshire schools.
"Hopefully what we have done will improve understanding of one of
Britain's most misunderstood cultures and have an impact on the number of
racially-motivated incidents against them that are reported each year."
Work on researching and creating the elements of the project, including
the film and audio recordings, began in June last year
A creative team from across the country was recruited to work with the
charity. It included social artist Katie Smith from Boston, who worked with the
young people on issues of identity through photography and writing,
London-based film-maker Charlotte Bill
and creative writer Charlotte Ansell.
The team held several sessions with young Travellers at sites around
the county, including Grantham, Gainsborough, Beckingham, Gosberton and Spalding.
The gathering which will introduce the project's work takes place at
the Gordon Boswell Romany Museum at Clay Lake, Spalding, on February 27 from
11am-1.30pm. There are limited places available for visitors but they must be
reserved in advance via firstname.lastname@example.org
Initiative works across the whole county to help members of Gypsy and Traveller
communities get access to a range of learning courses from different training
providers. It also develops its own training courses.
It is supported by
Lincolnshire County Council. The county council's continuing support means
Travellers and Gypsies across the county can benefit from the charity's
specialist advice, support and unique teaching techniques.