Pani Kekkavva (Kettle) Bamboo 2019, by Cas Holmes

Gypsy Maker 4 Artwork Narration

Pani Kekkavva (Kettle) Bamboo 2019, 132 cm x 52 cm x 0.5 cm by Cas Holmes

“The places and landscapes I ‘walk through’ are reflected in the imagery and materials I use. The nature of tea, (O-Cha in Japan and Chai in India) for example is a common motive of social gathering. ‘Putting the Kettle on’ a welcome sign of companionship and discussion and symbolic of my personal, creative and cultural growth. Memories of my Grandmother’s house and childhood stories told over a ‘cuppa’ first igniting my imagination and a thriftiness in what I use. Studies in Japan in my early art career laid the foundation for many of the processes and techniques I use in my work. As I matured I began, as Gran would say, to ‘grow into myself’ and found new confidence in drawing upon my Romany cultural background that was often obscured (sometimes through choice to ‘protect’ myself as I found my way through education). Research in India helped with a greater understanding of the roots of my heritage. All of my work uses reclaimed materials including cloth and paper and much of the media I use such as paint or dye is retrieved and salvaged from bins etc wherever I can find it. We have become careless in our care of this shared world.” Cas Holmes Artist

Cas Holmes’ artwork Pani Kekkavva (Kettle) Bamboo touches upon a number of important aspects of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller experience. The ways in which these communities have historically inhabited the world can be characterised as truly green in terms of living lightly on the land, connectedness to place, a focus on recycling (scrap metal dealing for example) and a shared sense of community responsibility for the spaces that we occupy in the world around us.

Living in tune with the land is implicitly understood and enacted by Romani groups. This is apparent historically in a number of Romani phenomena including cycles of movement precipitated by economic nomadism as in the seasonality of agricultural labour for example. Such a recurring experience of being can be said to contrast the linear notions of temporality that underpin Western histories and have encouraged Romani groups to develop a notion of existence-as-survival attuned to the contingencies of the natural world and the cycles of nature.

Cyclical notions of existence, as exemplified by the concepts of rebirth and karma, are also evident among some Eastern philosophies—a resonance which underpins an awareness of meeting again the consequences of one’s actions as exemplified by seasonality, an alignment with the rhythms of life and nature, and a sensitivity to the fluctuations of such phenomena. The connectedness that results from such attunement to place and time explains the existence of the seasonal stopping places which have long punctuated the Romani calendar and the Romani landscape. These elements along with the shared sense of community responsibility for the land that we inhabit can be said to lay at the heart of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller worldview. Dr Daniel Baker

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