February 2018

Middle Bound (QUAD exhibitions)
Middle Bound
V21 V21 3D Virtual Exhibition

Middle Bound QUADMiddle Bound – Exploring the Social Fabric at the Heart of England was a collaborative workshop and exhibition that I took part in with other artists, designers, photographers, and members of the community, at QUAD Derby in February 2018.

The project was directed by Patrick Waterhouse and Tim Wan, and curated by Mauro Bedoni.

From the QUAD website:

From 5th-9th February, QUAD Gallery became a workshop and open studio, made accessible to the public, where artistic and creative work could be viewed as it happened with the goal of developing, conceptualising and building an exhibition. Artists, designers, photographers and members of the community have been selected through an open call and they explored questions like: What are the communities that make The Midlands what it is today, and how they relate to each other? What are the stories we tell? How does ethnicity and heritage affect attitudes?

The Middle Bound participants were:

Farhad Berahman, Daniela Bayfield, Rica Cerbarano, Attilio Fiumarella, Shirley Hitchcock, Lynne Hollingsworth, Jessica Hollinshead, Tim Kay, Sally Kesterton, Fanni Kopácsi, Patricia Nimmo, Tristan Poyser, Richard Richards, David Severn, Tim Shore and Thomas Tierney.

The exhibtion opened on Saturday 17 February in QUAD’s main gallery space and ran until Sunday 11 March 2018.

The following is from my application to the project:

My mother was a Romany gypsy. Born in 1937, in a ‘gypsy waggon’ on Pipes Meadow, Bilston, in the Black County. She was proud of her heritage, but careful about who she told. It was something I and my siblings were only partly aware of growing up in the 1970s. It’s a history and lineage that is at once alien to me and yet part of me, and which has profoundly coloured my sense of who I am. As a child we may have known that we were ‘diddakoi’, the Romany word for gypsies with mixed Romany and ‘gorjie’ (non-Gypsy) blood. This belonging and not belonging to England is fundamental to my idea of myself. I am cautious that in this exploration of a gypsy heritage – one far removed from my experience – there is a risk of romance and nostalgia. Some of my most vivid and earliest childhood memories are of visits to my maternal grandmother’s house in the Black Country. These memories make me something that is Black Country rather than England: Romany rather than diddakoi.

MB IMG_0816 B 300 DPIMB IMG_0817 B 300 DPIMB IMG_0818 300 DPIMiddle Bound B 300 DPI

I juxtoposed family photographs of my nan and her family with photocopied articles from The Derby Telegraph, Derby’s local newspaper. The articles nearly all have very negative and typical headlines about the ‘problems’ that gypsies and travellers are ‘responsible’ for in the city and county. The simple juxtaposition of loved family photograph and negative newspaper article had a surprising amount of power and I found the effect moving.