Dreams, and Songs to Sing: A new photography exhibition shows the lives of Bradford’s Travellers

30 April 2024
Dreams, and Songs to Sing: A new photography exhibition shows the lives of Bradford’s Travellers
This has never happened for our communities before in Bradford. Myself and others have been so proud to be part of planning and design of it – Kathleenanne Boswell

Dreams, and Songs to Sing – a free exhibition by Bradford-based photographer Cath Muldowney, created in partnership with members of Bradford’s Gypsy and Traveller communities, opens at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery from 17 May to 8 September.

The installation at the Bradford Council-run gallery, is the culmination of work by photographer Cath over five years of capturing portraits of members of Gypsy and Traveller communities across the Bradford district.

Photographer Cath Muldowney, said, “It’s been a privilege for me to be allowed a glimpse into a way of life that has existed for centuries and is very much a part of the tapestry of the Bradford district. The people I have met have been warm and welcoming, honest, and funny.”

The exhibition has been created working in partnership with community and members organisation Leeds GATE (Gypsy and Traveller Exchange) and Bradford District Museums and Galleries.

Cath Muldowny

Kathleenanne Boswell lives on a site in Bradford and works at Leeds GATE as a Senior Youth Worker, engaging with tens of young people through education and activities in the region. Her family, like many others on the site, have lived there for four generations and are deeply connected to the region.

“As a Leeds GATE staff member and from the Traveller community, I’m privileged we get to do this exhibition. This has never happened for our communities before in Bradford,” said Kathleenanne Boswell.

“Myself and others have been so proud to be part of planning and design of it. I hope it’s going to raise awareness for our communities across Bradford and give people a clearer understanding of our heritage.”

Kathleenanne, her Mam and Granny are all woven into the backstory of Leeds GATE and the community activism at its heart; their life stories are told as part of the exhibition.

Leeds GATE

Photos are included from iconic fairs and drives such as Lee Gap, as well as at people’s homes and events. This is the first time these communities have been part of an inclusive photography display in the region.

Personal objects are shared by some of the community members photographed, and together they offer a glimpse into the lives and culture of Gypsy and Traveller communities in Bradford. 

Gypsy and Traveller people are often seen as one group, with much about their heritage and lives unseen and unknown. This exhibition however, showcases these communities' diverse traditions and cultures, and their place in the rich history of Bradford and West Yorkshire through to the modern day.

Exhibition flyer

Rachel Trafford from Leeds GATE said, “Gypsy and Traveller communities certainly face challenges and discrimination in our society or being made invisible in our British history. However, this exhibition is about finding and sharing Gypsy and Traveller hope, joy and beauty, opening in time to celebrate Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month in June. It is a truly inclusive piece of work with our members. We thank them for sharing their likeness and a small part of their experiences with us, the photographer Cath, as well as Bradford Council’s Cartwright Hall Gallery – it couldn’t have happened without them.”

James Steward, Head of Bradford District Museums and Galleries Service at Bradford Council, said, “This exhibition has been created with a shared belief that it is important to work in partnership to increase awareness and respect of the variety of community cultures and heritage in our city. It wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of a big team of people and we sincerely thank everyone who helped us.”

A series of events will also be held from June across the summer for individuals and families to get involved.

Find out more about the exhibition at www.bradfordmuseums.org

Leeds GATE press release/TT News

(Photographic images by Cath Muldowney)