Delaine le Bas defines herself as a ‘Romani artist’. She makes installations that are raw and intense collections of drawings, hand crafted objects, textiles, found objects and images exploring intolerance, misrepresentation, displacement and homelessness that Gypsy, Romani and Traveller communities continue to face daily. Recently Delaine’s Practice has become one of artist/activist working with NGOs in Europe to campaign, advocate and promote the recognition of GRT communities, their culture and history.
Delaine will be working in Peterborough during the summer part of ‘To Gypsyland’, an exhibition/road trip curated by 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, supported by Metal and Vivacity; and funded by the Arts Council England Strategic Touring Fund.
“To Gypsyland is a project by Delaine Le Bas co curated by Barby Asante, exploring ideas and myths of ‘Gypsyland’. Gypsies and Travellers are viewed as part of the pastoral landscape and countryside romanticism. But where is the ‘real history’ of Gypsies and Travellers, especially within the cities. Bringing together the artists archive collection and documented site-specific re-enacted performances, this exhibition Delaine Le Bas reveals stories of ‘City Gypsies’, taking a Gypsyland journey from London to Glasgow to Bolton, Peterborough then back to London. In “To Gypsyland” the history and myths created in the majority from academics outside the community is open for a new perspective. Ideas of nomadism, creativity out of necessity, a language that has it’s roots in the far east and the diversity of the community will be discussed and re-presented.To Gypsyland explores ways of connecting the present to the past and reveals the history of communities that live on the fringes of society that are rendered invisible and are fiercely misrepresented within British culture. To Gypsyland presents a new and diverse picture of what ‘Gypsyland’ has historically been seen as, what it currently is and what it can possibly be.
Following the roads travelled by Eva Sajovic and the DreamMakers, To Gypsyland is being conceived as an exhibition/ road trip to the 4 cities, where we have established connections during the DreamMakers project. The title of the project To Gypsyland, is taken from a book published in 1892 by Elizabeth Robins Pennell. Elizabeth lived in Camden, Pennsylvannia and this rare book with illustrations by her husband Joseph speaks of their travels through the UK and Europe looking for “Gipsyland.” The book acts as a prompt for Delaine’s own journey to Gypsyland, a cultural and historical journey across time exploring the Gypsy presence in major cities in the UK ‘City Gypsies’. Taking the idea of ‘City Gypsies’ To Gypsyland will focus on the idea of urban traveller communities that have always been part of the city landscape, but that still exist within the public imagination as an ‘English Countryside’ stereotype. To Gypsyland is where Delaine will take audiences to travel with her into this unknown territory and bring to light the cultural and historical geography of a people who are often mythologised and demonised, changing perception of where Gypsy culture and history are kept and dispelling myths. Delaine also considers Constant Nieuwenhuys Design for a Gypsy Camp who’s ideas consider nomadic urban living providing a framework for investigating theories of spatial practices, as a means of examining problems within contemporary urban societies that not only effect gypsy or travelling communities but all of us in an increasingly privitised society. Alongside existing artworks and new artworks Delaine will use archive material, items from museum collections in the places she visits, she will also make new work from what she finds in each place, create performances and collaborations, collect things that will become part of the installations and leave things behind that will become part of the place, communities, venues or organisations we work with.”