AN exhibition marking Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month is now open in Glasgow celebrating Roma life and culture. 

Romano Lav’s Community Archive is an ongoing multimedia project capturing the many lives of Romani people in Govanhill, as well as documenting the work of the anti-racist Roma community organisation. 

It has launched its first public collection El manush karan tut te khelen [the people make you dance], which is on display this weekend.

Showing scenes of the Clydebank Polish Roma band Romane Cierhenia’s family history, it features never-before-seen images and archival footage of Roma musicians and dancers in 1970s Poland.

Art made by pupils from Annette Street Primary School working with local artist Lorenzo Tebano is also on display.

Ashli Mullen, Creative Director of Romano Lav and co-curator of astar e iag, said: "We are thrilled to present astar e iag (feed the flame). 

"The exhibition title is inspired by our friend, Raymond Gurême, a Roma Holocaust survivor and concentration camp escape artist. 

"When Raymond spoke to European Roma youth at Auschwitz Birkenau in 2016, he urged them to continue the struggle and to keep fighting against the violence and racism Roma face everywhere across Europe. 

"He said ‘We, the old ones have lit the flame. Now, it is up to young people to feed it, make it grow…’ 

"Raymond is no longer with us, having died two years ago at 94, but his spirit remains. 

"And it’s precisely that spirit of intergenerational Romani resistance that this exhibition aims to capture: from the sound sculptures made by the children at Annette Street Primary School and the stylised portraits produced by Roma youth from our Community Catalysts programme, to the multigenerational retrospective of the Clydebank Polish Roma band Romane Cierhenia’s family history, which showcases never-before-seen images and archival footage of Roma musicians and dancers in 1970s Poland and that forms the archive’s first public collection. 

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"The archive has been two years in the making and we look forward to making it grow in the years to come to document these remarkable hidden histories."

The Annette Street children made fantastical models inspired by their encounters with these sounds, sights, and sites, as well as by Lorenzo's own works. 

These models were then scaled up and made into playable, life-size structures in the weeks that followed. 

Exhibition visitors are encouraged to engage in play or performances of their own. 

All works produced by the Primary 5 and Primary 6 pupils of Annette Street Primary in collaboration with Lorenzo.

He said: "These instruments are the result of workshops carried out over one school term where we listened to examples of site-specific music from the Moon Dog to field recordings from Stonehenge solstice celebrations and learnt about improvised music by interpreting visual concepts through sonic expressions. 

"The instruments were designed and made by the kids based on models they made out of recycled cardboard and materials we gathered in the park, I said that we are going to make instruments people have never seen before and I think that's certainly what we have here.

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"When I first met the students, I introduced them to my own instruments which I make from natural materials I collect when exploring wastelands and post-industrial landscapes this is a practice where I find myself immersed in an environment and its sounds, a practice which I introduced the children to. 

"We took contact microphones to the park to listen to the sounds different textures make, we made large cones to hold to our ears and focus in on distant sounds and we became a walking kazoo band jamming with the noises of Govanhill."

Also on display is a Roma photo series by Romano Lav’s Community Catalysts: a group from Romano Lav’s radical grassroots community education programme for Roma youth.

The photo series was facilitated by Morwenna Kearsley and Alex Popa as part of their Culture Collective residency at Street Level Photoworks. 

This exhibition of staged photographic portraiture aims to celebrate inspirational Roma people from history alongside self-portraits made in and around Govanhill. 

All photographs created by Natalia Balogova, Sandra Duraskova, Dorota Gombarova, Paulina Gombarova, Serena Gombarova and Alex Horvath in collaboration with Morwenna Kearsley and Alex Popa.

Morwenna said: "The ROMA project is based around celebrating extraordinary Roma people from history through performative self-portraiture. 

"Over eight sessions, myself and Alex worked with six incredible young people, brought together through Romano Lav’s Community Catalyst programme, to explore their Roma heritage through photography. 

"I’ve been so impressed and inspired by watching the group work together as art directors, models, hair and make-up artists, lighting technicians and photographers. 

"The historical figures the group have represented did so much to advocate for the rights of all Roma and I see their achievements reflected in this group of talented young people."

The exhibition is on at 43 Nithsdale Street, above The Deep End), in Strathbungo on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4pm.

Rahela Cirpaci, Project Coordinator at Romano Lav said: "Astar e iag is an exhibition that showcases our culture and celebrates our resistance. 

"We hope our Roma community archive is a source of pride for Roma people and an eye-opener for non-Roma people too, to show people how our traditions have lasted and evolved over time: from the way we dressed to the way we lived our lives then and now."