My name is Rachael James and I am Bristol based community artist and photographer. I am the founder and artistic director of the clown and dance company The Original Spinners CIC. I have put together tonight’s exhibition of images taken by Sophia Schorr-Kon, Claudio Ahlers, Geoff Dunlop and myself.

My love of Eastern European Roma music has lead me on an unexpected journey into a wealth of experiences with warm hearted and generous people.

In December 2008 the Taraf de Haidouks visited Bristol for the first time and played here at St. George’s. I met some of the musicians on my way in and they were warm and friendly, the evening was amazing and I had an idea… Eight months later on 18th July 2009 they returned to the UK to play at my wedding. Their presence and music made for a joyous and magical day. I have maintained a friendship with the band and in October 2013 I travelled with my family to Romania and spent a day with some of the Taraf in the village of Clejani – we had a wonderful time!

This exhibition is an opportunity to share some beautiful images of the Taraf de Haidouks, Clejani and a couple of images of the work they have inspired here in Bristol.

It also marks the beginning of a community arts project that I will be running in partnership with the Wellspring Healthy Living Centre, funded by Bristol City Council’s creative seed fund. The working title for the project is ‘Getting to know the Roma in Bristol’. On Wednesday 28th May we will begin the first of a series of documented workshops. The aim of this project is to enable the Roma to tell their own stories and by doing so help us to know them better. The stories will be gathered through artwork, photography and video. The project will culminate in an exhibition in 2015 that will enable the people of Bristol to understand the lives of the Roma better and by doing so, challenge the historically negative stereotypes that proliferate in society and which are systemically recycled in the media.

“A government which encourages members of its ethnic minorities to be proud of who they are is a government who will make those same people proud to live in such a country. The worst thing a country can have is a large section of its population feeling left out and unhappy; the consequences of this are well known in history.” (Ian Hancock, We are the Romani People)

 Rachael James


If you would like to find out more about the exhibition and project please email: