Painting No Common Ground

A Celebration of Gypsy Art – traditional and contemporary, in its many forms

About Shamus McPhee

Shamus McPhee (born 1971) is an artist and activist. He holds an M.A. in Celtic Hispanic Studies from Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, and a postgraduate diploma in Translation from Warwick University, Warwick. He is a founding member of the Scottish Gypsy Traveller Law Reform Coalition (SGTLRC), where he worked as Secretary in 2006–2007, as well as a member of the Scottish Gypsy Traveller Association (SGTA) and the Scottish Travellers Against Racism (STAR).

Together with his sister Roseanna McPhee, he was an expert witness in the landmark case establishing the legal ethnic status of Scottish Gypsy Travellers. He has raised awareness and shown his paintings as a backdrop, at among others, Call the Witness, 2nd Roma Pavilion, 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2011; the Appleby Fair, Appleby, 2009; Brighton Arts Festival, Brighton, 2003; and at various local Perthshire outlets.

The Forgotten Experiment

The Forgotten Experiment

Painting-Big-Chill-at-Bobbin-Mill.jpg

Big Chill at Bobbin Mill

Painting Big Chill at Bobbin Mill

Shamus (Shim) was born at Bobbin Mill, a Gypsy Traveller site in Perthshire, Scotland where he still lives today. The site was part of an assimilationist experiment carried out by the Scottish authorities from the mid-1950s, which sought to quash the Scottish Gypsy Traveller community through a process of cultural denial. The encampment continues to act as site of resistance for Gypsy Travellers, and can be seen as symbolic of wider European Roma questions regarding social exclusion and the negotiation of cultural difference. McPhee’s art practice draws upon his experience of growing up in the midst of the social injustice represented by the Bobbin Mill experiment.

DISTURBING STATISTICS

  • Average life expectancy of Scottish Gypsy Traveller males is 52

  • 95% unemployment on sites

  • 90% of planning applications summarily refused

Creative Scotland Pit Lochry Festival Theatre Perth Kinross Council MECOPP