Patrin – Gypsy Heritage in the East Midlands

Patrin was a photography based project which worked in collaboration with the Gypsy and Traveller community from the East Midlands (Derbyshire and Lincolnshire) to record their heritage, and challenge the perceptions of the settled community The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and was managed by the Monitoring Group.
Why Heritage ? Well, heritage is a powerful tool. It is something that gives a sense of place and identity and helps to inform us about who we are and how a region has developed over time.  One writer described the process of recording your heritage as ‘place making in a place-less time’. (Robbins 1991) it is a process which has historically been difficult for the Gypsy community because their nomadic lifestyle, combined with official discrimination has meant accurate government historical archives have not been wholly reliable. The Gypsy communities themselves, being for the most part illiterate, afforded little value to the paper and ink, they passed their history on by word of mouth. This oral tradition means that very little written work exists.
Gypsies have been present in the UK since the 1500′s, they are a defined ethnic community and share the same prejudices and intolerance faced by other ethnic groups, yet they have no relationship to colonialism or slavery, and tend to get left our of the debates around racism. These factors have been compounded by the widespread prejudice from all sections of the community, causing many of the local Gypsy community to choose to remain largely invisible.
The East Midlands is home to three of the largest Gypsy  groups in the country, and these groups have played an important role in the history of the Gypsy community as a whole.
Through this project we trained members of the local Gypsy community in camera skills, and worked in collaboration with them to produce a exhibition held at the New Art Exchange, a website and a book.
The project was launched at the House of Commons in June 2013 as part of Gypsy and Traveller Month with the All Party Committee for Gypsy and Travellers.
For further information you can visit the website here.

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