Representing Gypsy lives at the University of Leeds
A new exhibition at the University of Leeds explores visual, historical and fictional representations of the Gypsy and Traveller community opens March 1st.
A new exhibition at the University of Leeds explores visual, historical and fictional representations of the Gypsy and Traveller community. Rights and Romance: Representing Gypsy Lives is the latest exhibition at the University’s Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery. In the 50th year of the controversial Caravan Sites Act, this exhibition examines the changing perspectives on, and representations of, the Gypsy and Traveller community by those outside it – alongside the stories and voices of the community itself.
The Library’s Special Collections department collaborated with Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (GATE) to create a video about the unique Gypsy, Traveller and Roma Collections, of national and international importance, held in Special Collections at the Brotherton Library.
Opening on 1 March and running until 31 July, the exhibition focuses on the designated Gypsy, Traveller and Roma Collections held by Special Collections at the University of Leeds. The community has played an integral role in selecting objects from the collection for display.
Amanda Reed, a member of the Gypsy community who was involved in sharing stories and selecting photographs and artwork to go on display, said: “I really wanted to get involved with the exhibition so I could take my grandchildren to see their culture. We go to a lot of museums across the country, but we rarely see our heritage on display. I can’t wait to share this with them.”
The collection was gathered by Dorothy Una Ratcliffe (or D.U.R. as she was known). D.U.R. was not a Gypsy woman, and her collection reflects an outsider’s admiration for Gypsy and Traveller culture.
Dr Jodie Matthews of the University of Huddersfield, co-curator of the exhibition, said “Dorothy Una Ratcliffe celebrated the various folk cultures of Yorkshire and further afield, and saw Gypsies as an important group in British social life.”
“The fact that Dorothy Una Ratcliffe gave her collection to Leeds University in 1950, along with funds to increase the collection, means that this archive of representations of Gypsy life is available for us to try to understand both positive and negative attitudes towards this community in the past.”
Rights and Romance: Representing Gypsy Lives, opens on Thursday 1 March at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery and runs until 31 July, 2018. Entry is free. For more details and opening times, visit library.leeds.ac.uk/galleries
Image credits: Lead picture and last picture by Fred Lawson © Sonia Lawson. Reproduced by permission of Special Collections, University of Leeds. All other pictures by Joseph Appleyard © David Appleyard. Reproduced by permission of Special Collections, University of Leeds