A meeting with artist Colin Dick see some of Colin's sketches
At the end of the day, whilst packing away the tent I was introduced to Colin Dick, an artist based in Coventry. He told me about his work and his interest in Travellers. We have kept in touch since and he has given me permission to let you read his first letter to me.
‘It was about 1947 that I sat by the fire with some Welsh Gypsy people on Epsom Downs at Derby time. I begged to learn some Romany words. They had great fun teaching me some obscene Welsh – and hearing me repeat it – but I did get some. Hitch-hiking back from Rome, I tried it on Italian Gypsies. Thrilled to find it worked.
I took up art teaching after being a draughtsman artist for an antiques firm and also theatrical scenic artist in London – with conscription into the RAF behind me. First school a secondary modern in Rugby. The boys attended the slaughterhouse before school. I got enmeshed in a huge boys school in Coventry for a decade and more, till I got my own department in Leamington. At school I heard the Sikh children use the same words as the Roma.
I got to know Doctor Chan Sandhur – a Sikh poet and exhibition devisor for temples. I soon got a handle on the Punjabi/Romany background. I don't remember any Gypsy kids at school! Didn't think to enquire then. I went down a mine with no future to it to draw. I prowled the ruins and demolition that remained in Coventry- drew buildings of every century, from 13 th …they entered the city collection in Herbert Gallery near Coventry Cathedral.
Driving near Leicester way, after I retired I came across Siddy Biddle's Bill Wright style wagon and vehicles. (Saw him at Stow yet again.) I returned and began a series of etchings catching Traveller scenes. Went to Appleby and Ballinastoe. But earlier I had a long friendship with retired coal boaties at Hawkesbury – got well into the canal society scene. Took part in actions to save navigation routes by painting propaganda a bit. The Biddles wagon took me off on vardos.
Going to Stow I heard about Councillor Vera Norwood – later Mayor and saw her family's ancestral art tradition and her own. She became Deputy Chair of the Gypsy Council. We got on well. Jeremy Sandford made some video films in the lane on the field at Stow with an ad hoc band of players and singers drawn from the fair.
Nowadays, I ask about children grown up and with kids. I try not to be a Gypsiologist – I stick to the artistic problems – but can't help reacting to interested folk. ‘Draw me a horse Moosh!” I take the World's Fair paper weekly and draw at circuses too. I have done a day trip by coach to Gloucester basin to draw.
A scrap dealer's grandson asked me straight away as I arrived at Stow, “How do you draw a wagon in 3D, Colin? I can do 2D.” When I go to sketch at the horse auction at Henley- in –Arden a number of the young Gypsy people I meet at Stow come up and chat. Sometimes I draw quick portraits.
Kushti bok and keep in touch. Colin