‘Our Life Our Way’ Traveller quilt to be launched tomorrow

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The launch of the ‘Our Life Our Way’ Traveller Quilt will take place at 1pm tomorrow, Wednesday, April 6, in the City Of Culture Offices in Waterloo Place.

During the development of a Pharmacy Project that was funded by CDHN and delivered in partnership with Derry Traveller’s Support Group and Claire McCauley, Pharmacist at Derry’s Village Pharmacy, Traveller women expressed the desire to produce a Culture Quilt as part of the project.

This coincided with a request from the Context Gallery to complete a workshop with the Traveller women’s group in Derry with an acclaimed English Romany artist Delaine Le Bas, who was visiting Derry to complete work with the Context Gallery and local groups.

In making the quilt, four generations of women Travellers teamed up with members of the Derry Travellers Support Group at Ballyarnett Travellers Centre, Multimedia Artist Delaine Le Bas and local textile designer Tina McLaughlin who worked together to produce a hand-sewn piece.

Delaines’s critically acclaimed exhibition ‘Witch Hunt’ showed in the heart of the city at the Context Gallery earlier this year.

As an English Romany, Delaine Le Bas found she had a lot in common with the women she met.

“We wanted to tell their stories and produce a piece that reflected that… they talked a lot about the prejudice they face and how this makes them feel about themselves. It’s unusual for work like this to come from inside their community but all the women enjoyed taking part.”

Tina McLaughlin, who specialises in quilting, said taking part in the project gave her an insight into the Travelling community.

“I suppose I had my own idea about how they lived, although I had never really thought about it but I learnt so much. They are fantastic women and they have a lot to put up with,” Tina said.

Margaret Boyle, Director of Derry Traveller’s Support Group, said: “Traveller women were able to express their views on social exclusion, their traditions and values and pride in their culture within this piece of work.

“It will take pride of place in the foyer of our Community Centre in Ballyarnet along with previous pieces of sculpture created by our Traveller youth that demonstrate the talents and skills held within the Traveller community.”

The completed Quilt is now on show in the City Of Culture Offices in Waterloo Place.

The project was supported initially by the Derry City Council and The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Context Gallery who funded the initial workshops with English Romany, Delaine Le Bas and Tina McLaughlin.