Gypsy Maker 4 Artwork Narration 

Kan 2019. 91cm x 61 cm diameter, mixed media by Dan Turner 

“As part of my research I have looked at the history of Travelling peoples as healers and in the process I have discovered a wide range of wild medicinal plants that would be available to Roma across Europe. The Gypsy Maker 4 exhibition includes the paper works ‘Kan’, ‘Per’, ‘Mui’ and ‘Yok’ which include in their manufacture herbs that have been chosen to represent protection against some of the hazards of travelling and to promote self sufficiently across continents. During a recent residency at the Wellcome Foundation Reading Room in London, I conducted research into Romani luck and healing resulting in the formation of a number of art workshops based on the subjects of luck, lucky charms, and herbal remedies. These workshops took place during the Welcome Foundation exhibition of early Indian medicine titled The Ayurvedic Man. As part of the research I looked at the migratory history of Travelling peoples and I subsequently produced work which combined Greek Tamata (Votives) with ‘visual prescriptions’ using dried herbs based on Ayurvedic medical drawings. The use of recycled materials within the ‘Kan’ piece and its related artworks also reflects wider Roma occupations, present and past, and our role in the various economies of our host countries. I have been looking at this through the filter of the Roma diaspora, and the ways in which many different territories have benefitted from our cultural influence. Fitting the broader themes of the artworks that I have produced for the Gypsy Maker project these works are also intended as maps of imagined, more positive, future worlds.” Dan Turner

Dan Turner’s concentration on the value of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller cultural practices and the ways in which they can contribute to wider society is an important factor in generating new and positive counter-narratives to commonplace and counterproductive stories about Gypsy, Roma and Travellers. Building on his research into Romani luck and healing, Turner produced an art installation titled Seeds of Change as part of the FUTUROMA exhibition which appeared at The International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2019. Seeds of Change sets out Turner’s vision of a technological future where Romani space is optimised to ecological effect to transform the roofs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller homes into herb gardens to produce remedies that were once widespread among their communities. Here healing is at the heart of Romani life. Turner’s living first aid kits point to a time when Gypsy, Roma and Travellers were valued within rural communities for their skill and expertise along with the unique insights that they had to offer. As well herbs seen growing in glass containers, the Venice installation includes images of green roofs depicted on Romani homes to indicate the kind of recycling and regeneration initiatives that have long underpinned economies of Romani existence and situating them as central to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller experience and to Romani knowledge. 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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