The Caravan and the Pheasants
This artwork is a celebration and a rebellion. A cherished childhood book, the freedom of a life lived outside and on the road, the inequalities between rich and poor and the persecution of a race of people.
When I re-read one of my favourite books as a child, Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, I began to see where the seeds of an alternative life were sown and possibly also a lifelong distrust and disgust of the elite and impossibly rich landowners of this country.
For over three years we lived in a Northamptonshire village where three separate "shoots" operated. We would see the charabangs drive through the village full of bankers from London wearing their tweeds for a taste of the countryside and a fun day out killing birds raised for sport. These dead pheasants weren't taken home and cooked. They weren't used to feed hungry people They were used quite often in fox hunts, also very popular in that part of the world. We asked for and were given the dead pheasants, and learnt how to pluck, gut and dress them. Usually I would go for a quick method, removing the breast meat and legs. At a time when money was very tight, this was a welcome source of wild nutritious meat and I felt that in some small way we were honouring these beautiful birds and their short lives.
Maybe because of the themes of this book I have always thought of myself as a poacher, a peasant living on the fringes of the estate looking for a chance to take something for myself from natures larder which the wealthy elite decide belongs to them. (This of course is far from reality as I have always been able to afford to buy food, shelter and am incredibly privileged in so many ways.)
As I find myself as a landowner I prefer to think of myself as a steward, looking for ways to share what we have and welcome people onto it.
Forever has this book planted the seed of escaping the toxic wasteland of the city in a romantic romani caravan. A live lived as a roamer, with no roots and minimal possessions (everyone who knows me can have a good laugh at that, thinking of how many books, etc. I have).
For all of my life I've heard people talk about and blame "the gypsies". There have been so many stories from people, fear and distrust. This is the racism that people seem to think is acceptable. An Instagram friend talks of living in fear as a traveller, being woken up in the night by local gangs. In the past friends and people I have met have told me that they have been forced to live in a house because our society and the government does not and never has properly supported this way of life.
From The Traveller Movement -
Gypsy Roma and Traveller people belong to minority ethnic groups that have contributed to British society for centuries. Their distinctive way of life and traditions manifest themselves in nomadism, the centrality of their extended family, unique languages and entrepreneurial economy. It is reported that there are around 300,000 Travellers in the UK and they are one of the most disadvantaged groups. The real population may be different as some members of these communities do not participate in the census.
The housing market in this country is broken, we need to find alternatives. It may be that people will one day end up finding common ground with this way of life.
The artwork is printed onto 100% recycled 300 gsm card which has a smooth, white finish. This print is available in two sizes: 210mm 210mm and 297 mm x 297 mm.
The handkerchief is sewn by me in Wales. The image is printed onto an untreated cotton fabric certified as 100% organic. The approximate size for each handkerchief is 320 mm x 320 mm. Wash at 30°. Every handkerchief with care instructions.
Each order is wrapped in acid free, unbleached tissue paper, and includes a hand written thank you note. I am happy to address this to recipients of gifts at no extra cost. Just let me know in the notes when you place your order.