Stephen Bishop

 

'Roma'

Artist's statement

 

Discussions with The ARThouse Gallery's director Paul Watts in early 2012 revealed that we shared a common interest in Gypsy culture.  My participation in Flamenco dance has been allied to an interest in Romanies for many years.   Both British Romanies and Spanish Gitanos share a common root from tribes originating from the Indian region.  Being non Gypsy, I want to avoid cliched romantic notions sometimes associated with this theme.  These works are not intended to be an illustration of travellers’ life, instead I have sought images and ideas which resonate with me on a deeply personal level.   I paint from the heart with passion and energy.  The paintings explore ideas of family and of connection to time and place.  This exhibition is a response to a yearning for a more nature and family centric existence.    My interest is in the sensibilities and symbolism that Roma represents for me.   I hope that you too may divine in these paintings your own meanings and reflections.  The following lines from Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot have particular resonance for me.

 

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, unremembered gate

When the last of earth left to discover

Is that which was the beginning;

At the source of the longest river

The voice of the hidden waterfall

And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for

But heard, half-heard, in the stillness

Between two waves of the sea.

 

I often play gypsy and flamenco music in my studio whilst painting.  Music from Dorset folk tunes and genuine archive recordings of travellers in the field has informed and inspired me in ways of which I am only partly conscious.   In building this exhibition I have researched countless books, online resources and visited archives such as the Pouncy Collection held at the Dorchester County museum, as well as the Museum of Rural Life at Reading University.  The most potent references for me date from the early 20th century when the few remaining Romanies were being settled.   I share the quintessentially English sense of melancholy for what has just been lost.  Though perhaps a Gypsy wagon and family are forever roaming some forgotten timeless Dorset heath and wood, if only in my mind.

 

Beating of the Drum                                            58 cms. diameter

 

 

Lost                                                                   40 cms. diameter

 

 

Carmencita                                                             120 x 180 cms.