Sunday, 25 December 2016

No 25

By Rob

Our Christmas instsllation takes the form of a stencil....

Everyone deserves a place to call home. It is simple as that. However, not everyone has a place to call home or the luxury of choosing the place where they want to call home. 
As we celebrate the holidays, my thoughts are with the many refugees who are fleeing from places such as Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan due to war. They have been uprooted from a place they have called home by circumstances out of their control. As a result, many of them have made a treacherous journey in search of a new home in Europe. Instead of finding a welcome mat, many have found themselves locked out of their new home.
My thoughts take me back to the story of when God became a refugee. Shortly after Jesus was born, he and his family found themselves uprooted against their own will from their homeland of Palestine and forced to flee to Egypt because there was a genocide of young boys taking place. 
My thoughts take me to the present as I reflect on what is happening in my neighbourhood. Droves of people who have made Hackney home for years are being pushed out of the neighbourhood against their own will as they can no longer afford to pay the rent. In the coming new year there will be 1,000 fewer social housing options available as they are redeveloped into luxury housing for those who have the money to make Hackney their home.
My thoughts are with my street friends who have no place to call home due to life circumstances such as a loss of a job, health issues and domestic violence. Meanwhile there are thousands of buildings that remain empty as those with power such as the police, bailiffs, developers, politicians keep them at bay.
I look forward to the day coming where there will be no more borders or states where people regardless of who they might be will be able to make home wherever they desire. That will be the day when love will be made complete and find its home.

Friday, 23 December 2016

No 23

By Anne

My house is inspired by a beach hut: brightly coloured, often left unused in the winter and, in some places, costing as much as a house can cost elsewhere. It's colours are not weather proof: a reminder of the transient nature of much of what we spend our money on.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

No 22

By Rebekah

My house is inspired by the story of Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs: the dwarfs took the stranger (Snow White) in and gave her sanctuary. You can see the dwarfs hats along the side of the roof as well as a picture of the apple that was almost Snow White's downfall. It's pictured here with the Magi approaching, so maybe it might also be Babushka's house!

With apologies to Rebekah for the terrible photos of her lovely box

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

No 21

By Kaspar

I made it into a stable. I was thinking about making a shelter for homeless people then I thought I could make the shelter for Jesus. I cut a star to show the star above the stable in Bethlehem.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

No 20

By Annabelle

Recently we got a new front door. After the paint had dried two brass numbers were firmly affixed - 33.
The number on our door is more than just an address, it is short hand for 'home'.
Come over to number 33, we're at 33, it's all happening at 33.
This got me thinking about other numbers too....
Numbers that have represented home to me. 187.
Numbers that resonate with meaning. Number 10.
And numbers that represent so much but seem to mean so little.
6437 homeless people in London.
340 children drowned trying to come to Europe.
7,467,774,68 people in the world.
140,000 hairs on my head.
Advent is a time for counting the days, but as I try to find the tiny numbers on our Advent Calendar every day I am trying to remember the other numbers.
Numbers that are so easy to say and so difficult to comprehend. 

Monday, 19 December 2016

No 19

By Paula

When faced with this year’s advent challenge of doing ‘something’ to a sweet little birdhouse I was, understandably, stumped. Inspiration wasn’t forthcoming. The idea of being inspired by home and, more importantly, the lack thereof left me feeling overwhelmed. How could I garner any sort of usable idea that captured the essence of home amidst a time when the word home is such a loaded phrase?

Home to me is simple albeit geographically complicated – it’s the place my husband and son are. It’s also across the Irish Sea where my mum is and it’s across the bigger pond where my husband’s family are. My son has the luxury of saying he has three homes; something he (rightly) takes great pride in.

Like so many, our little family of three has woven its own tapestry of life. And it was this tapestry that finally nudged me in the direction of inspiration. Less of a solution to society’s deepest displacement issues and more of a celebration of life and people everywhere who weave their tapestry and tell their story.

Those who find themselves without a home or escaping their country are no different to us and yet the attitude is often one that sets us apart as different, as better or worse but it's this tapestry that doesn't set us apart - it binds us and we must remember that, always.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

No 17

By Rachel

Home to me is the sense of a safe space where you explore,
grow and learn to fly.

Friday, 16 December 2016

No 16

By Fran

'Home' to me is living in a community it's bumping into a smiling face, a chance encounter with people on the street that I know and love. You know when you bump into someone and they just make you smile as you walk on through the rest of your day... 

People surprised me when I moved to London from a village where everyone knew everyone. I thought I would be lost in a City that was void of community. People became friends, shop owners became familiar and chatty and many people shared their homes, friends, food, ideas and stories. Streets seemed lighter now there was someone I knew there. People who were hospitable in whatever small way then gave me the confidence to pass it on. 

Since living in London for over 10years I hope I can be a smiley light of home for people who felt like me.

The box has the local streets in and around chatsworth road shining with the warmth of home. I hope we can be a welcome to anyone arriving to join in in this wonderful city whoever they may be. 

My hope is that welcome continues to come easy to this city and the people that call it home.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

No 15

By Rhona

No 14

By Beatrice

'When I was little, loads of my friends and kids my age had glow in the dark stars on their ceilings. Recently I went over to a friends house and they had them. I thought about how there aren't many stars in London and how that would be how I was going to change my home if I could.'

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

No 13

By Lynda

I've got this thing about milk bottles. They are very satisfying to cut up. Pliable yet really strong. Easy to slice, yet with enough 'give' to make you feel like you're working the material. They're also readily available, easy to come by, and mostly - when empty at least - unloved and unwanted. Perfect for making stuff with. 

Recycling. I like to make things out of things which were once other things. Recycling is better than throwing away - as in filling up a landfill site. But making new stuff out of things which would otherwise end up in the recycling bin is even better. 

I've been lucky enough to travel to various places, and visit people in homes made from things which have been other things. Oil cans, plastic sheeting, corrugated iron, plastic jerrycans. Lucky enough to see how much I have, what privilege I have been born into. But also lucky enough to see the resourcefulness of human beings, the creativity in the face of great poverty, the pride families take and the generosity shown in the midst of using other people's junk to call home.

So, I enjoyed making little houses out of milk bottles. Keeping them from the bin for a bit longer. Remembering Susanna in Mexico City, and millions of others like her, with her immaculate children, and her two rooms made of stuff found on the scrapheap. A place she proudly called home.

Monday, 12 December 2016

No 12

By Jaqui

I grew up near the countryside and whilst I love this Hackney home of ours I often yearn for more green. Of course if you rewind much more than 100 years most of where our homes once stood was marshes and farmland. I have become very interested in 'greening the grey' of our urban streets, injecting life and colour, creating wildlife corridors where birds and insects can move from match to patch, tree to tree. There are lots of ways our community are managing to do this which enrich the lives both of local people and wildlife - planting more street trees, planting up the beds around trees, creating roof gardens, championing green spaces, and planting up front gardens and disused spaces, even if they're tiny.

So my bird box is paying homage to the humble leaf. Those I used are from a beech tree growing in Durrington Road. Collecting them off the pavement - after trampling them underfoot for several weeks - and breathing in their earthy scent was a moment of reconnection with nature for me. Working with them to tile the box was very satisfying, there is so much beauty and individuality in their form and studying them one by one allowed me to appreciate them. Creating from something that would otherwise be walked over and ignored allows me to ponder the nature of beauty and humanity's relationship to nature. 

It also makes me think of the exciting movement going on to make London the world's first National Park City. A city where people and nature are better connected.  A city that is rich in wildlife and every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors. We are so lucky in Hackney to be so rich in green spaces, but there's lots left to do. We need to encourage the council to stop routinely spraying carcinogenic weedkillers in our streets. We need to encourage our schools to make better use of our local green spaces; they rarely have any green space of their own. Maybe we can even think of ways of bringing more green to our own beloved Chatsworth Road. The birds and bees will thank us, and they in turn can enrich our lives.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

No 11

By Milo

When I was making my advent houses, I was thinking about community and what community means to us. For me it means we could rely on our friends and neighbours who live nearby. I also thought that some people don't have that privilege to rely on others.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

No 10

By Eleanor

When I was thinking about what to do with my bird box, I thought mostly along the lines of what home meant to me. At first I was completely stuck; I could come up with ideas but they were all too big and general for me to represent on a bird box. Eventually I decided I would have to narrow down my thought processes and focussed on Christmas. We have always done the Christmas at home, and it is the time of year when I feel most connected to my home. There are six figures on my bird box - my parents, siblings, my grandmother, and me. There is also a Ballerina to represent the Nutcracker ballet my siblings and I watch every Christmas Eve, and a wooden figurine who 'smokes' incense - a German Christmas tradition. Another German influence is the place of Zimtsterne cookies. On the bottom of the bird box is the figurine of Jesus in the manger which features in my family's German (of course) nativity scene. To me, each of these things makes up my Christmas traditions and is a good way as any to represent what home means to me.

Friday, 9 December 2016

No 9

By Andy


I saw the bird box flat, as a 2D home to a cartoon astronaut, off on an adventure.


This week it was announced that cosmic dust dating back to the birth of the solar system 360 billion years ago, had been found on rooftops in Paris, Oslo and Berlin. That unlikely juxtaposition appeals to me. The remains of something explosive, vast and distant, the fastest moving dust particles ever found on Earth (7 miles per second), stuck in the guttering of someone’s home.


It provokes perspective. 


2016 feels like a year Earth went into melt down. Brexit battles, Trump, bombs raining down on Aleppo, Mosul and Yemen, climate change. At home there was more welfare reform, NHS cuts, overpriced housing, low pay  and zero-hour contracts. You’ll have your own stories. There have been times when the big news stories have crowded in. It's got a bit much and we've switched off social media and 24 hours rolling news. It's felt hard to get any other perspective.


Finding a crisp winter night, filling a flask, running up that hill and glancing up. We’re in that impossible starry backdrop, with a glimpse of our bigger home. A vast alternative perspective for a city dweller, where at night the streetlights are always on.


I forget how massive our home really is.


Take the moon. At its closest our neighbour is 225,622 miles away. That's further than New Zealand!


Mars – which feels local and familiar – is 34 million miles away! At its closest point, light (travelling at 186,000 miles a second for goodness sakes) takes 12 minutes to reach us.


Voyager 2, launched back in August 1977 and zipping along at 38,000 mph, is currently 10 billion miles away. It will pass within 25 trillion miles of Sirius – the brightest star in our night sky – in about 300,000 years. We’ll all be long gone.


Then in the inky blackness, we have our International Space station. But in reality it’s only in the shallow end, a mere 250 miles above Earth. That's the commute from London to the Middlesbrough!


Whether from the back of Voyager 2, an astronaut peering out of a space ship, or looking up from a hilltop, we are small. We are tiny. Our astonishing home in this impossible universe is cosmic dust.


Some people looking out of the window, or up at the stars find the scale of it all a bit depressing. It’s not really. If anything the vastness may keep usgrounded and rooted in what matters. I’m loved. I don’t have long. I can prioritise – build a life around what really matters, and that which makes a real difference to others. That feels like finding home, which is maybe the greatest adventure!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

No 8

By Neil

I suppose I think about birds as creatures of the countryside, most at home in the most rural of settings. But the world’s cities are home to a surprisingly large population of feathered creatures and London is no exception.  It seems some of our winged friends have embraced the urban and their chorus has become a key harmonious strand in our urban soundscape. I was thinking about the way the city changes the kinds of homes or shelters in which we dwell. How our homes are pressed up against each other when space is limited, sided by side, above and below. And so I thought about a high-rise bird box. A place for birds of a city, where nest is nestled against nest and where a bit of nesting can turn a place of shelter into a place that feels like home. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

No 7

By Evie

My bird box is a tree house.

A camouflaged home.

Hidden in the leaves of the tree. 

Over this year many refugees have had to hide in their own country, in crisis.

This kind of home should be temporary, in times of need

Not just refugees it could be our homeless.

We need more permanent solutions for homes in this country.

Where people can feel safe to grow into the best they can be.

And not in hiding.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

No 6

By Anne

Thinking about home is tricky for me.  If you asked me, my first answer would probably be that home is where those you love are - but so many people live a long way from family and friends they care about that it's not quite so easy.  Do you choose your home?  Does it choose you?  Do you end up somewhere accidentally?  Do you tolerate or embrace where you are? 

As a German who grew up mostly in the USA and has lived in London for more than 20 years I've struggled a lot with the feeling that there are always loved ones living too far away, and that, far from belonging in each of these places, I belong in none of them.  But I am also lucky enough to have had the opportunity to choose London - and home, for better or worse, is here.  From my first trip to London as a 15 year old when I said to my friend (who remembered long after I had forgotten), "I'm going to live here some day," I've felt drawn to this city.  It is dirt, smelly, overcrowded, too expensive and full of aggravations like transport problems and other people who are too busy and stressed to deal with others kindly.  But at the same time it is mysterious, intriguing, beautiful, and full of history, exciting things to do and see and wonderful people.  Over the centuries London has welcomed so many different types of people - so many cultures and different classes -  that I feel heartbroken at this year's vote for Brexit and the implication that the nation is saying others are no longer welcome.  I am trying to take heart in the fact that the people of this city does not necessarily feel the same.

My house represents my London - pages from the A-Z, that old bible of London, which show all the places I've lived and worked in my time here.  All those places have helped make me who I am today, and the people that I've met and talked with and laughed with and had cups of tea with have enriched my life immeasurably.  So, thank you, London - despite all my complaints, I do love you so.

Monday, 5 December 2016

No 5

By Esta

I took the idea of home to mean having a place in this universe that is called "home". My home is covered in Zodiac star sign constellations to represent the fact that everyone belongs somewhere even if they might not currently have a 'home'. I pray that all those who might not have a roof over their head this Christmas will still find somewhere on this earth to call home. Amen 🙏 xxx

Sunday, 4 December 2016

No 4

By the pre-school kids of Village Green. (With a little help from their carers.)

As I was setting out the toys early one morning a couple of weeks ago for our weekly playgroup at the Round Chapel, I got thinking about all the many people who would step foot in the main hall of the building that Wednesday. And the importance of spaces like this to open its doors and make people feel welcome and at home.

From the local families who would come in for a play that morning...maybe having had broken sleep the night before with their babies and happy for some company and a strong cup of coffee. To the guests who would attend the weekly Jobs Club at lunchtime...maybe having had a rough week and coming to see Alison and volunteers for some non-judgmental advice about their benefits or job searches. To the people who would come in later that night for a warm meal and a safe space to sleep with the Hackney Winter Night Shelter team...having perhaps slept rough the night before and welcomed with some dignified touches like fresh flowers.

And so, this bird box was decorated that Wednesday morning by the children and parents who attended the playgroup - it is covered with sparkles, glitter & fun. And on a cold day, but from a warm space with open doors.

Can you spot where it's hanging? 

Friday, 2 December 2016

No 3

By Dannie

Ontop of a landfill, surrounded by police, in thin tents and tiny shacks, both barely waterproof. Freezing cold, sick and still running, living in the slums of Calais ... where do you find home? Where you find the safety amongst the chaos, the warmth amongst the shivers? What is home, and how can you even think about recreating it without the ones you had to leave so far behind? 

Living and working in the Calais Jungle for two months taught me a great deal about what home means. How the creative human spirit can allow nations to work together hand in hand, how when you take away the fear and focus on kindness 10 thousand needs can be met. If you inspire love and hope you can create a home. Home is our comunity, the crazy, misshapen, multicoloured family we build around us. Whether linked by blood or not our comunity are the familiarity that brings the settled comfort that allows a building, shack, cardboard box, or even a dirty old stable to feel like home. Home is place we feel safe, where we can share experiences, laughter, tears and often food. But most of all home is where we feel the love of those around us. 

Wherever it may be and whatever it looks like, I pray you are blessed with a home this Christmas.

The text on the tent material on the chapel Dannie made was written by one of the children from Calais before the jungle was destroyed. It reads:

If you lose money, you lose nothing.
If you lose a friend, you lose something.
If you lose hope, you lose everything.

No 2

By Vickie

Home is not always a happy place to be, particularly at Christmas. For some, that's the loneliest time of year. I wanted to remember these people and challenge us all to consider how we can better care for one another.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

No 1

By Kari

We are a “mixed” family: Dad is British, Mom is American but now also with UK citizenship, kids were born and raised in London, and they too have dual citizenship, possessing both UK and US passports. Half and half. (Pronounced “haff and hawf.) Up until 2016, our citizenship and national identity have been mainly a matter of practicality and occasional family conversations about who our kids would have rooted for in the US War for Independence. But sometimes there was pride involved as well. Being “half-American” is something unique that our kids have boasted about. And given the rampant Anglophilia in America, being the only kids with British accents in a large extended American family is pretty special too. 
And then this year happened. Brexit. Trump. A wave of anti-immigrant sentiment.  On both sides of the Atlantic, appalling records on taking in refugees. At a time when technology makes being part of a global community easier than ever, many countries are pulling up their drawbridges. Now being American and British feels like more of a source of shame than pride. And yet this is who we are. So what do we do with that? We start, in small ways at first and big ways when the time is right, to work toward making our country one that we can be proud of again. The difficult thing we will do now. The impossible will take a little while. (Thanks, Billie Holiday.) 
One thing we can say for sure: we are very proud to be a part of our community in Hackney!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

2016 - no place like home

What is home for you?
Is it enough to have a roof over your head? What if you don’t have a roof over your head? 
Advent is a time of waiting, journeying, arriving, longing. It leads us to Christmas which is often a time of home-coming. Where are you coming from and where are you going to? 

Our news is full of stories of those for whom the answers to those questions are painful. From refugees fresh from the destruction of their makeshift shelters in Calais, to people facing eviction in face of benefit cuts, passing along the way all those simply being priced out of areas in our city where they live or have been raised. We’ve seen vulnerable people making their home in a car and rooms to rent on houseboats. In places across the world walls go up to keep people out, or to hem people in. What about those who are ‘foreign born’ in post-referendum Britain? Do they feel at home here anymore? And if they don't, what does that say about the rest of us? What are we all doing to help more people find the place they're longing for.. a place they can call their own... their home?
For 2016's Chatsworth Road Advent Calendar we asked people to think about this as they made their piece of art. A template of a plain bird box was provided to those who wanted one. We hope you enjoy the advent adventure.

Join us on twitter and instagram @chatsstarsE5
#followingthestar #noplacelikehome #chatsstars