Traveller Collection at The Hugh Lane gives a place to Traveller culture and identity in Dublin City’s Gallery and puts forward the idea of a national digital archive of Traveller culture.
The project engages an ongoing collaborative process with cultural practitioners, Traveller activists and collectors in an exploration of what a Traveller collection or a Traveller specific museum might be and how it would be managed and maintained by Travellers.
Traveller Collection at The Hugh Lane also includes 7 paintings by Mick O’Dea from the Martin Folan collection at Pavee Point. These paintings are on loan from Pavee Point and represent the first time a loan like this has taken place between an art institution and a Traveller organisation.
Rosaleen McDonagh writes, as a Traveller, about her interaction with art galleries as part of ‘Traveller Collection’. Oh, Had I the Wings of a Swallow
The exhibit also features archival material that forms the Irish Travelling People: a Resource Collection. This collection was borrowed from the Special Collections of Ulster University. The collection was originally created and built up by Eileen L’Amie at Ulster University.
While on display in the Gallery, the material will be scanned and the digitised files then becoming part of an online platform dedicated to Traveller culture www.travellercollection.ie This represents a process of giving Traveller culture visibility and access – not only to Travellers but to the wider population also.
The website is set up as a database pointing to the location of various collections and is also open to organisations and individuals to upload their own items in relation to Traveller culture and identity.
A series of handmade flowers made by the women of the Primary Health Care Traveller Project in Pavee Point, leads people into the exhibit along with work made by Tinsmith James Collins.
This project is a Dublin City Gallery commission with collaborative artist Séamus Nolan, CREATE – the national development agency for collaborative arts and CAPP – collaborative arts partnership programme. Séamus has put together a series of films on Traveller culture also on view in Gallery 10, The Hugh Lane.
Barbara Dawson, Gallery Director has said ‘Working with the Traveller community, Pavee Point, archives and archivists, Seamus Nolan goes beyond any single reading of identity and heritage. He challenges traditional points of view through a contemporary re thinking of established histories, memories and communities. We are very pleased to have worked on this collaborative project with Seamus Nolan and Ailbhe Murphy, Director of CREATE Ireland and the CAPP team.’
Ailbhe Murphy, Director of CREATE “We are delighted that Seamus Nolan, one of Ireland’s leading collaborative arts practitioners, has proposed this very timely and relevant socially engaged project. With a focus on archive, identity and history in relation to the Irish Traveller community, Nolan has been working with a number of collaborators to re shape and re work ideas about what ‘heritage’ and memory can be.”
Jessica O’Donnell, Head of Education and Community Outreach at the Gallery said ‘it will be fascinating to see how the idea of an ongoing collaborative process of enquiry will be activated during the exhibition and manifested far beyond this.’
Traveller Collection at Pavee Point
Another part of the project was a special loan of The Street Singer by Jerome Connor from Dublin City Gallery’s collection to Pavee Point on 21 June for one day. A roundtable session also took place as part of the CAPP Network’s Power and Practice international conference. The situation of the work within one of the national Traveller organisations initiates an engagement of equivalence between these organisations. See pictures and report here.