I have been drawn to the life of my Great Grandmother Eleanor. Eleanor was the daughter of a Spanish Romany Gypsy. Eleanor’s Romany father abandoned her and her sister Rose in an Orphanage after their mother died.
I am interested in this broken connection of Eleanor’s loss of her family and her link to her Romany ancestors. Knowing very little about Eleanor and Rose motivated me to look into the Romany people as a whole and their history. I never realised the extent of the persecution the Roma have suffered over the centuries.1 These metaphorical paintings contain the personal story of Eleanor and Rose, but spread much further to encompass many people, times and places. It is this echo of dislocation and loss that reverberates, making itself heard again and again in our present time.
“I connect my personal story to the collective story.”2
1 Use of photographs of Romany from early 20th Century, and World War II photos of persecuted Roma children as the primary sources for my paintings.
2 Mantel, Hilary. «BBC Radio 4 - The Reith Lectures, Hilary Mantel, Can These Bones Live?» BBC. Lecture. July 8, 2017. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08wp3g3.(external link)
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