The close proximity of the Stone Space and The Chelsea Gallery to libraries inspired this series of 2D and 3D work exploring the theme of belonging through contrasting literary references. Firstly, poet John O’Donohue’s idea of an ‘Architecture of Belonging’ in which he sees belonging as a fluid way of being, changing with the different environments and people we encounter. Secondly, A.A. Milne’s playful and insightful rhyme ‘Halfway Down’ and finally, the ancient myth of Narcissus and Echo.
What if stairways had the potential to be so much more than just pathways from A to B? J.K. Rowling and A.A. Milne certainly saw their potential, viewing stairs as not just connecting different spaces, but as fertile places of imagination and possibility, where you can’t predict the reality of what you may encounter at the bottom or at the top. ‘The Halfway Triptych’ are portals for reflection and imagination where sometimes things may not be what they first seem. They feature stairways from three London cultural venues which have inspired my thinking.
‘Voiced’ presents written extracts from the audio work ‘Vocal’, part of ‘An Architecture of Belonging’. People across the community distilled their experiences of belonging, or not belonging, into a six-word story or short statement. These were recorded and played sequentially from three speakers creating a triangular path of sound within St. James’ Church. By presenting the words in book structures, I hope to share the responses with a wider audience and bring into relationship these diverse, individual experiences.
‘Narcissus’ and ‘Echo’ reflect on the experience of not belonging. Narcissus sealed his own fate by rejecting people who loved him and instead fell in love with his own beautiful reflection, wasting away alone looking at his own image. The nymph, Echo, was punished for lying by being restricted to repeating the words of others, unable to speak her own words. She fell in love with Narcissus who rejected her. Heartbroken, Echo gradually disappeared until she became just a voice.