Shamus McPhee was born at Bobbin Mill, a Gypsy Traveller site in Perthshire, Scotland where he lives until 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. In his testimony, which takes the form of an interview with artist and theorist Daniel Baker, McPhee discusses the ways in which he combines art and activism to disseminate his ideas, and how the resulting art works operate as integral to his pursuit of cultural visibility and recognition. The role of the artist within the Gypsy community and as wider social commentator are explored along with notions of how art might enable new ways of tackling long-standing questions. (Daniel Baker)
SHAMUS MCPHEE (born 1971) is an artist and activist. He holds a 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, the Appleby Fair, Appleby, 2009; Brighton Arts Festival, Brighton, 2003; and at various local Perthshire outlets. McPhee lives and works in Pitlochry.