We Are Sweet Art

In my research I looked at the history of Travelling peoples as healers and considered the wide range of medicinal plants that would be available to them as they travelled across Europe.

Plants are vital to every aspect of our daily lives. They provide us with food, fibre, medicines, fuel, shelter, clothing and the air we breathe. Many plants have considerable cultural and economic significance.

Plants are essential constituents to ecosystems. It is estimated that 50,000 to 70,000 plants are used in medicines throughout the world providing an essential contribution to health care and are an important source of income in some rural areas.

Europes Roma/Romani and Traveller populations like it’s plants face an ever increasing range of threats from displacement to lack of habitat (places to live, stop and work) and like plants are constantly vulnerable to changes in the social and economic environment.

Europes Roma/Romani and Traveller populations lives are lived in the tension between moments of erasure and hyper-visibility. The idea of erasure/hyper-visibility links the Romani/Roma/ Travelling community into what is happening in a much wider context to working, minority and migrant communities all over the world.

The Anthotypes,* flower prints reflect a Romani, Roma or Traveller herbal and healing traditions. They are the ghosts of the past – past illness, past days; the shared past territory and daily interaction with non-Roma. I use these prints to create an image which decolonizes memory and knowledge, a contemporary art that, by synthesising historical information, portrays new ways of looking at current social issues such the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

I made these prints in response to assimilation; the gradual incorporation of one ethnicity and its culture into another more dominant culture in such a way that the original culture is lost. The original flower image will fade in sunlight leaving only a blank piece of paper as it cannot be “fixed” or held. They are a metaphor for forced or economic assimilation which happens to ‘other’ working, minority and migrant communities all over the world. As the image fades it loses its coherence just as a community which is assimilated loses its identity.

Anthotypes are a way to create photographic like images.

An emulsion is made from crushed flower petals or any other light- sensitive plant, fruit or vegetable material. A coated sheet of paper is then dried, exposed to direct full sun-light until the image is bleached out. This can take 1-3 days or much longer depending on conditions and materials used.

Results vary greatly from plant to plant and the strength of the emulsion employed.

The anthotype process is a sustainable one that does not harm to the environment. Also it cannot be ‘fixed’ and fades under exposure to sunlight.


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