Leeds Traveller heritage celebrated in art

13 February 2017

An international Romany artist is to show a new, one-day-only performance which explores a hidden aspect of Leeds local heritage - the fascinating story of the Gypsy and Traveller stopping-places in Leeds down the years.

The one day only performance by artist Delaine Le Bas, who is herself an English Romany, will take place outside the Tetley gallery, Leeds, on Weds 22nd February from 9:00am.

The performance, ‘On The Reservation’, takes the form of a tent, which will be erected outside The Tetley’s main entrance for the day, and which will house an installation of artworks, and a live performance which will be repeated throughout the day.

Delaine has been working with local Gypsy and Traveller people to create the performance. She has also taken inspiration from the collections of old photographs held by Leeds-based Gypsy and Traveller organisation Leeds GATE, and the Romany Collection at Leeds University’s Brotherton Library.

On the Reservation’ is part of a larger art project by Leeds GATE, Feet On The Ground, funded by Leeds Inspired, in which artists Vanessa Cardui, Rudi Holmes and Grace O’Neill are working with members of Leeds GATE to explore Traveller and Gypsy people’s memories of stopping in Leeds.

Some of this work will be on display at Leeds GATE, at 169 Cross Green Lane, LS9 0BD, from Weds 22nd Feb to Weds 1st March, and afterwards at venues around Leeds.

Speaking about Feet on the Ground, Leeds GATE CEO Helen Jones said that Leeds had a rich centuries-old history of Gypsy and Traveller stopping-places.

“Many were in the city centre or in residential areas nearby, reflecting a perhaps greater acceptance of Travellers, and a closer relationships with the settled community, than we sometimes see today,” she added.

“Gypsy and Traveller people have deep roots in Leeds, and it’s great to see artwork that explores and celebrates this.”

Feet On The Ground is a participatory art project taking place in 2016 and 2017 in Leeds. It is supported with funding from Leeds Inspired, part of Leeds City Council; and is led by artists Delaine Le Bas, Vanessa Cardui, Rudi Holmes, and Grace O’Neill, and members of Leeds GATE, a members’ organisation for Gypsies and Travellers in West Yorkshire.

The project explores the meaning of the Gypsy stopping-place, by looking at the history and psychogeography of places around Leeds where Gypsy and Traveller people have stopped in years gone by. The project will map and memorialise the sites of Gypsy and Traveller encampments, and explore what they mean to Gypsy and Traveller people’s sense of identity and belonging in Leeds.

You can follow the project’s progress on its blog here https://feetonthegroundart.wordpress.com/