Not wanting to settle for the norm, the anticipated questions or rehearsed answers in the workshops with this group of Travellers, I used the Expressive Arts to set a scene for narration to evolve.
We painted, moved, used various forms of interpretation and had some fun. From this, common threads of themes emerged, prompting inquiry and discovery. “Listening” is important in storytelling.
Echoing the importance of the theme around “keepsakes”, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the parting words spoken or final messages are in actual fact, some of the most precious and these arrived towards the end of the workshops.
Also, the plan was always for us to launch the book as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival. I was also struck by the parallel of similar themes which were reflected in some of the programmed events and how close they were to my conversations with the Travelling community. Due to the Corners project at Festival, I was prompted to ask questions related to travelling, movement and observing travellers and this linked to some fascinating stories and comments from the ladies, allowing a weaving of inspiration.
Travelling is so important. It is necessary for all of us and it is good for us to do it as much as we can. The alternative is stagnation which becomes unhealthy, dull and indeed, poisonous.
I am grateful for having had time to work with the ladies from the Travelling community and through An Monia Tober. I am also grateful to Israel Hontavilla and Belfast City Council for supporting this work. Without your support, these stories would not have been gathered and this book would not be launched but most importantly, the voices of this group of Travellers would not be heard. As an artist, I am grateful for having the opportunity to show how an alternative approach has enabled us to unlock and delve into the richness of expression and creativity.
Please read and invite others to share our book and the link on the site. The messages in these keepsakes are being given away to be shared generously.
The book can be downloaded from this link: