Searching For Kushti: 50 Years of The Diddakoi

1 April 2022
A town explores a book

Electro Studios Project Space, Seaside Rd, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex TN38 0AL.

2-18 April 2022. Thursday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday 18th April 12-5.

A Town Explores A Book 2022 celebrates 50 years since Rumer Godden’s young adult novel The Diddakoi told the story of a half-Gypsy girl’s struggle to maintain her travelling culture following the death of her wagon dwelling guardian.

Since the novel was published the demarcation between the nomadic and the settled is less clear than ever. Many Roma no longer travel but guard their traditions. Many New Travellers are second or third generation and were born on the road.

Hungarian Roma photographer Béla Váradi and New Traveller Jules Earl investigate how their own wider communities continue to preserve identity, culture and community.

Kushti (or cushty), a Romany term for something good, has become a part of everyday English along with many other Romany words such as pal, wonga, gibberish or lollipop. Unconsidered by most, Romany and Traveller peoples and cultures are woven into the fabric of our society beyond caravan holidays and “gypsy fashion”, as they have been for centuries.

Under the Flyover

Béla Váradi worked as a journalist in Hungary and was a founding member of RadioC, Europe’s first Roma radio station. Moving to the UK in 2011 in the wake of the Orbán government’s crackdown on independent journalism, Váradi turned to photography working on projects about immigration, Roma journalism, and minority representations. His recent coverage of Black Lives Matter protest in London was nominated in the professional photojournalism category at the Fine Art Photography Awards 2021 and widely published.

Jules Earl has lived on the road for over 20 years in the UK working as an HGV driver, site manager, waste analysis technician and photographer. Her knowledge of, and access to, disparate and sometimes hidden groups enables a personal and direct focus on travellers’ roles as integrated members of the wider community as well as their own. A free gallery event will be held on Friday 8th April in solidarity with International Romani Day.

Produced by Alex Brattell with John Cole for A Town Explores A Book.

Supported by Arts Council England.


For more information & high resolution photographs please contact Photographs: (Top) Traveller Cart in Darenth, 2022 ©Béla Váradi (Bottom) Under The Flyover, 2022 ©Jules Earl