I have been caught out recently. I have found that something that is happening in my personal life is manifesting a stronger response than I would have anticipated or expected. It starts with a thought and image and is felt somewhere between my mouth and my chest (around the sternum). It is a swell of something that has a subtle pain associated with it, that makes my lips pull together, there is a push in the forehead and the muscles in my face draw towards my eyes, a quiver shifts through me and then the tears start. The tears aren’t great amounts but they still exist.
The thought - the family home that I lived in between the ages of 9 and 18 years has been sold. My father sadly passed away in January after battling cancer and for several reasons my mother has moved from this home and this town. I, of course, know that some of these feelings are connected to a grief I am still experiencing, but there is a loss connected to this change, a sense of missing a place. The house that is being sold and the town it is in, I have not lived in for over 18 years now (half my life). I knew when I was younger that this town was not somewhere I could stay to fulfil my vision or aims, but it was somewhere that nurtured something in me. I have over those 18 years away from ‘home’ lived many states away and now on the other side of the world.
The last time I was home was when my father passed in January. Home was such an important concept for him. He was a man of agriculture, I grew up on farm and then when he couldn’t farm anymore, in a town that was surrounded by agriculture. I always knew, from being very young, that one of the things that drove my father was to own the home that we lived in; he worked tirelessly to try and provide this shelter for his family.
Its not that I feel I always need to be home, but there are those resonating words ‘I am going home’ that means there is somewhere we identify as distinct when compared to other places. We have sung, written, made films and dances about home for longer than I know to suggest.
Through all of this change I do find myself having the thought that I will never go ‘home’ again. Not in the same way at least. I realise that I won’t walk out of ‘that’ door, down ‘that’ street, around ‘that’ corner, as I smell ‘that’ air, experience’ that’ light and look at ‘that’ piece of the sky as the galahs fly over.
This brings me to question why I am writing this, what does my story have to do with anything? Well, as my partner often reminds me, the personal is political. I fully recognise that my loss is small compared to the horrendous ways that millions around the globe fleeing their homes, may have to face a future that they are never 'going home'. ‘Home" certainly is a word that conjures a sense of security, a sense of being able to rest. It is something that I sense as an individual and in many ways collectively and globally we value. However, I feel that far far too often we fail to see the need or the right for others to have this. The world is experiencing such a mammoth scale of displacement, there are so many people who can’t go home. Safety and security does not exist for so many 'us'. I say 'us' because we have to remember each other through all of this. I feel that ‘home’ is something that resonates in so many current issues, as we look for a way and a place to be in this world. So I write this acknowledging how important ‘home’ is and truly hope that we find ways to ensure everyone has a home.
Someone asked me recently if I have often made work about migration and home (this was something they seemed to be observing) and I was surprised to actually stop and see this as a theme that has run through several projects. Including my solo show for youth and family audiences ‘Aquarist Nimble’, that is about an explorer who crosses the oceans and deserts to return home to find everything has turned to dust. So its something that somewhere I need to talk about, reflect on and grapple with.
In order to think about this subject in relation to movement practice and the experience of the body I asked myself and a few of my dance, movement and performance peers the question - how is the body, home?
What came up was that the body is the only place we really know, it is the only way the world can be experienced, it is a place of rest, a place to return to to learn new things, a place of ancestry bringing past histories and experiences to the present moment, a place that feels like a prison if neglected, a place that we sometimes look back to and that the body is the only ‘ever changing’ constant'. (Thank you Hannah Buckley, Sarah Sayeed and Karen Wood for your words and dialogue).
When I work in movement based practices I am often working with observing, navigating and responding to and within both internal and external environments in order to move and create. I often feel that exploring the body and the depths of its anatomy, physiology and its potential in the creative process, is like I am in a dark room in my home. The room is full of objects, others, sounds, the energy of what has gone before in that space and the potential of the future. I have been here before, I live here, but every day with some remnants of knowledge I am rebuilding and informing a new understanding of this place. I feel that I have to use everything available to me to understand the contents of the room and then discover what the next interaction may be. This interaction may be to simply continue to listen. There are times when doing this I feel that the light is eventually turned on in the room, sometimes it is very bright and other times I feel I stay in a dim space. I think that this relates to a word that I, and I know others I work with, often use and this is the word connectedness.
So where has this bought me to? I certainly know that I am not finished with searching to understand why I am in dialogue with these questions and subjects. There has always been fragility in life and home is such a strong part of the question of security. I know I struggle as I walk the streets of my own city and I see homelessness and become aware of the many reasons why this is occurring. Without a home there is certainly significant fragility, survival becomes challenged and I consequently ask - what is our right to security?Subscribe to our mailing list: