Corrina Eastwood and fellow artist Delaine Le Bas kindly agreed to talk about their art practices in relation to British identities at the Stuart Hall Library Research Network meeting in February. The meeting is a forum for researchers, artists, academics, curators, students and activists to introduce an aspect of their art practice, research, cultural activism.
Corrina brought her experience of bridging two worlds. She has a Romany Gypsy father yet was raised in a house and sought different educational paths than is usual within the community. Corrina has just started to explore this through the making of a documentary film with Gavin Round.
Both Corrina and Delaine have offered their reflections on what it meant to them to share their thoughts with the group. Recordings of the event are available here and a project bibliography based on the Library’s holdings can be downloaded here (Delaine’s thoughts on her talk in this blog)
Corrina Eastwood on her talk at the Stuart Hall Library Research Network
I was honoured to be asked by Iniva’s Stuart Hall Library to team up with artist Delaine Le Bas to present some of my artistic practice with reference to issues surrounding English Romani Gypsy identity.In retrospect the evening has been an important catalyst in a specific kind of development in my creative process and thinking. This in terms of an exploration and negotiation of proximity of the self and subject when creating a narrative that is both personal and potentially political.I feel in many ways that the work that Delaine and I both presented created an interesting and challenging contrast as a departure point for discussion.
The work in progress that I presented was 9 minutes of a documentary film that I am directing and collaborating on with my husband Gavin Round. My father is a Romani Gypsy and we started filming my family with a view to focusing on archetypal story telling in Romani Gypsy culture. For me the presentation and following Q & A really clarified my thinking behind this chosen focus. Addressing the issue of this part of my identity is something I have not approached as of yet in my practice and the personal nature of this exploration was something I had in many ways avoided.
Working with Delaine and thinking with others as part of the evening created for me what felt like a tension in my creative process mirrored in the group discussion. Where do I locate myself in this story, what about this story is mine and what parts of the multi faceted nature of identity and the archiving of history do I wish to consider?
The use of documentary film chosen as a medium for this exploration has also been an aspect of my practice that I have been able to consider in greater detail since the evening at Iniva. The explicit nature of film lends to a sense of moving beyond the anecdotal in terms of archiving, yet a use of metaphor and a particular aesthetic has proven to expose the subject to interpretation I had yet to consider before this being highlighted in group discussion.
In conclusion, I have found the tensions and deliberation evident between the conveying of the stories of individuals through artistic means, and this being with in a context of culture, interesting and surprising.
Finding a balance within my practice so that the stories of individuals are not lost but are privileged within a wider political context has become a focus for further consideration.
I have also been inspired by Delaine and other artists met through the evening and look forward to future collaborations further exploring personal stories of identity.