On Thursday 18th August, the much anticipated Proud Gypsy Traveller ‘Hidden Histories’ exhibition launched at Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery. Not only did the public have the opportunity to get a first look at the photographs and items on display, they also had the opportunity to listen to an inspiring presentation from project leaders Violet Cannon and Paula Nicholson, and exhibition curator Rachel Horne.
Doncopolitan co-editor and curator of this exhibition, Rachel Horne, spoke about the importance of this project not just “to challenge negative stereotypes that non Gypsies and Travellers may have due to mainstream media, but also for younger generations from Doncaster’s Gypsy and Traveller community to find out about their heritage.”
The issue with shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding was not just that it was negatively stereotyping a community, but that it was shaping communities. Violet spoke of how “young boys would be fighting, even though they’d never fought before.” When asked why they were fighting they would respond “because that’s what Travellers do!” Violet said that the show was “telling our kids who they are and our kids are believing it.” All they had as there cultural reference for who they were was My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Violet wanted to know how to “give our kids a true story of who we really are”.
Paula and Violet first worked together with Rachel in 2012 for the project Just Like You. Just Like You was shown at the launch and Paula spoke about how the aim of this project “was to allow people to see the similarities between the Gypsy Community and non Gypsy community and how really what is precious and important to us is the same across the local community, and it is this which unites us.” Just Like You exhibited at Tate Modern.
One of the most important ideas that I came away with was that this project is about Gypsy’s and Traveller’s telling their own stories.
Violet reiterated this by saying “if you google image search #Gypsy, it comes up with either very romantic living wagon images , or images of paintings of very provocative women. So you don’t get accurate representation of who Gypsy’s and Travellers are, and Gypsy’s and Travellers themselves are unable to identify with it.”
The idea of reclaiming back #Gypsy and #Traveller through #ProudGypsyTraveller is so important. This project aims to reclaim these hashtags and use social media as a way to get true images and representations out.
The ‘Hidden Histories’ exhibition will be open until 24th September at Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery, after which there will be a further exhibition at The Point (darts) which will open on 16th October.
Get yourself down to this exhibition and get hashtagging:
#ProudGypsyTraveller #ProudGypsy #ProudTraveller
You can also follow the Twitter account: @ProudGT