The Romani Elders

The Romani Elders

Sandra Jayat (FR)

artist, Honorary member

Life story

Sandra Jayat (1940- )was born on the French-Italian border. She was fifteen years old when she fled to Milan to avoid a forced marriage, and then went, on foot, to Paris. On the way to Paris she joined the camp of Django Reinhardt, his cousin. In Paris she became acquainted with French avant-garde writers and artists, and about a decade later she was an acknowledged figure of French art life as a poet, writer and painter. A contemporary and personal friend of Picasso and Chagall, Sandra Jayat was known primarily for her mythic poetry, though she also painted surrealistic pictures with a peculiar air. In the early 70s, she began exhibiting in galleries. In In 1981, Sandra Jayat organised the first world exhibition of Roma artists in the Conciergerie of Paris and in 1985 the World Exhibition of Roma Artists in Paris. In the recent years Sandra Jayat particpated in many exhibitions such as at the Meet Your Neighbours, Contemporary Roma Art from Europe (2006).
As a writer her first collection of poems, Herbes Manouches, illustrated by Jean Cocteau, was published in 1961, and it was followed by a second book Lunes nomades. In 1972 she released a disc in which she reads her poems, accompanied by original music of Django Reinhardt. (Source: Meet Your Neighbours catalogue;


“Remember, Zingarina never shows her tears when she is sad. She is recovering and she dances.”

”If you do not know where you go, never forget where you came from.”

”I wish I had the power to transform into wild grass to grow freely”

”Do not hide your origins, do not forgot your traditions because they support your freedom and I am proud of the journey.”

”We are not savages, but civilized people of another civilization. We are neither superior nor inferior to the rest of humanity. We are different, that's all!”

Books, Articles, Statements

Moudravi où va l'amitié - illustration from Marc Chagall, Paris, Seghers, 1966. (poetry) Lunes nomades, Paris, P. Seghers, 1963. (poetry) Herbes manouches, Paris, la Colombe, Éditions du Vieux Colombier, 1961. (poetry) La Zingarina ou l'herbe sauvage, Paris, Max Milo, 2010. (book) Les Racines du temps, Cergy-Pontoise, Éd. Points de suspension, 1998. (book) El romanes, Paris, Magnard, 1986. (book) La Longue Route d'une Zingarina - illustrations from Giovanni Giannini, Paris, Bordas, 1978. (book) Le Roseau d'argent, 1973. (tale) Les Deux lunes de Savyo, 1972. (tale) Kourako, 1972. (tale)

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