Sunday, 25 December 2016
Friday, 23 December 2016
Thursday, 22 December 2016
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!
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
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
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
Friday, 16 December 2016
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.
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.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
Monday, 12 December 2016
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
Saturday, 10 December 2016
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
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
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
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Monday, 5 December 2016
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Friday, 2 December 2016
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.