Great Aunt Margaret’s Hopes 2019 by Cas Holmes

Gypsy Maker 4 Artwork Narration 

Great Aunt Margaret’s Hopes 2019, 59 cm x 69 cm by Cas Holmes

“In the last few years I have travelled a great deal and often miss seeing the seasonal changes at home. The Gypsy in me calls equally, and when I am at home I want to travel. ‘Great Aunt Margaret’s Hopes’ along with ‘Wanderers Nightsong’ are both part of a series called 40 Yards. I found a scrap of fabric with 40 yards printed on it on a footpath locally so used that as my starting point for this series. The pieces reflect the seasonal changes and odd observations that I record from within my visual footfall of around 40 yards connecting me to home. The materials are collected and donated as I travel. A few pieces of this modular installation are represented in the Gypsy Maker exhibition. I will have 40 Yards worth eventually. It is the transient nature of my work and process, a compulsion to engage with the things experienced as part of the overlooked details of daily life that are of interest to me. Yet, at the same time the stories I find about people and place, regardless of social, cultural and economic backgrounds inform who I am and my particular take on the world. Seasonal changes are also reflected in some other works in the exhibition. My ‘Edgelands’ series  depicts branches above for protection, woodland for foraging, and grasses and hedgerows for pulling up the vardo and resting, and gleaning seasonal fruit and nuts. Chestnutting with my gran brings back fond memories, and she baked a mean wild berry fruit tart. The ‘Hopkins’ series shows myself reflected in images of hoppers huts and hop pickers. This was previously installed in a hoppers hut on a Kent farm. Sadly, hop picking in Kent is now no more than memory. The cloth belonged to the family and the shadow prints are of hops.” Cas Holmes 

Cas Holmes’ artwork Great Aunt Margaret’s Hopes along with many of her other works within the exhibition emphasise the deep connection to landscape and season that has long been an important factor in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller experience. Although the majority of Romani people are no longer itinerant, the influence of a common nomadic past remains significant. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller histories are founded partly upon cycles of movement precipitated by economic imperatives, for example the seasonality of agricultural labour. This kind of cyclicality is distinct from linear notions of time such as the chronology through which Western histories are narrated. Roma’s seemingly cyclic approach to time reflects a sensitivity to the contingencies of the natural world; an understanding of time that is shared by a number of Indigenous nomadic peoples including Aborigine and Native American. The idea of Indigenous nomadism could be seen as counterintuitive as nomads are generally considered to be the antithesis of Indigenous through a perceived non-attachment to specific geographies—an argument which has clearly aided the commandeering of land by property focused colonialists overseas and the implementation of restrictive legislation for the movement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups closer home. Dr Daniel Baker

Gypsy Maker is an innovative, ground-breaking concept devised, owned and developed by the Romani Cultural and Arts Company – the only Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Arts Development organisation in the United Kingdom. This 2020 project is supported by Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru | Arts Council of Wales and is commissioned by the Romani Cultural and Arts Company’

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