There is much work to be done to improve the ways that Gypsy, Roma, and Travellers' material culture is catalogued in museums and other archives. For the most part, the work needed is to begin to acknowledge the otherwise ignored. To see the unseen. More Travellers are needed in archivist roles to achieve this.
This year it has been a great pleasure to work with Article12 in Scotland and the Clan McPherson Museum. I've been leading a series of creative writing workshops with GRT folks to write in response to museum objects that pertain to our culture.
Together, we've developed a selection of new museum labels and interpretative texts to help make those connections clear to visitors.
Legend tells that this is James MacPherson’s fiddle. Macpherson was hung in Scotland in 1700 under the ‘Egyptians Act’ . This meant capital punishment for anyone discovered or suspected to be an Egyptian, the misattributed ethnicity of Gypsy, Roma, and Travellers. This object started our creative responses. You can read more about those: here, here and here.
Positive change can only happen in one museum and with one object at a time, to help GRT people can see our cultural traditions and have our historical place in the world recognised by the heritage sector.
Thank you to all at the Clan McPherson Museum, Dr. Rhona Ramsay, Maggie McPhee for being such a wonderful writer, and to Eilidh McLeod at Article 12 in Scotland. Here we are in front of Maggie's words which are now a permanent part of the exhibition.
Congratulations to Maggie who has a new pamphlet of creative writing forthcoming next year. Do check that out!