Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Roma Painters' Summer Camp, Lake Balaton

After the rigours of Budapest, work, head colds, unseasonal weather and an overcrowded campsite we were invited to stay at the Roma Artists' Summerschool at Fonyod, on Lake Balaton, meet the painters, their families and chill for a few days.
What a lovely idea! We drove down with Kata, Editor of Amaro Drom and Szuszi our interpreter in hot and jovial moods.
We were fed immediately upon arrival (traditional) even though we had scoffed delicious sandwiches en route. Thankyou Szuszi.
The building where the Summer School is held, is an old renovated childrens' home, owned by the municipality of Budapest and given to Romano Kher to run residentials s for the artists' their families and disadvantaged children from all over Hungary. It has extensive gardens and grounds that run right down to shallow Lake Balaton ... the Hungarian Seaside.
Szuszi introduced us to everyone in turn, explained what we are trying to do and they all thought it 'important work'!
We looked at the paintings in the open plan attic, spacious and light, where the artists could all work 24 hours a day if they wanted to.
We were told that many of the 20 or so painters present were too poor to afford paint and materials so it was provided for them. Conversly one or two are well known and able to earn a living from their work.
Roma painting is a relatively new phenomenon, grown to prominance over the last 40 years and now regarded by many as a very important tool in the forging of the modern Roma identity.
The work is varied and wide ranging from the colourful and naive to the classical more muted and painterly styles. Angry to sublime in content.
The following day A and I made portraits of 18 painters with the painting of their choice made that week plus a portrait of Isztvan the charming, energetic soul of the party. These portraits will be assembled in one large piece so that all the painters and their work are represented equally.
This was great fun and took most of the day to execute.

Isztvan, the caretaker, playing with the artists'children.
He is a champion dancer and Romanes speaker.

The grounds of the Roma House

View over the lake

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