‘Oh, but anyway, Toto, we’re home. Home! And this is my room, and you’re all here. And I’m not gonna leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all, and – oh, Auntie Em – there’s no place like home!’ Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
WHEN some people think of home, they think of comfort, family and a sense of belonging – the thought brings joy and relief.
When others think of home, they think of regression – perhaps they cringe at where they came from or who they used to be. The thought, for them, brings sadness or anger.
Asylum seekers, for example, often face confusing feelings over the idea of home and homesickness.
They’ve fled a place where they did not feel safe; many were scared for their life or the lives of loved ones. Where they once lived and probably came to love became a place of danger marred by the threat of persecution.
Still, it does not necessarily stop being what it was before – a place where they had family and friends; a place with weather and landscapes they were accustomed to; a place where people spoke their language.
As part of the 2011 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Commission for Mission held an art installation at the synod office in the city. It was called ‘There’s no place like it’ – a space exploring the concept of home.
Those who passed through the exhibition were invited to reflect on what home meant to them – was it something they embraced or something from which they recoiled?
Was it a place where secrets were hidden or where honesty was allowed?
What happens if you don’t feel like you have a home?
The installation had several stations. Mini model houses, quotes and images filled the recesses of a wall made entirely from moving boxes. Recordings from a Skype phone line with anonymous answers to the question, ‘What does home mean to you?’ played on audio-loop through headphones.
Two windows were installed in another constructed wall with the glass covered in black wax. People were invited to chisel thoughts and pictures about home into the wax; backlighting meant that the light shone through where the wax had been chiselled out, illuminating the impressions left by each person.
Another freestanding wall was covered in wallpaper on both sides. On one side, people could peel off a piece of wallpaper to take with them as a symbol of what might need to be exposed at home. On the other side, people could write secrets about home and wallpaper over them as a symbol of what they needed to acknowledge but still keep hidden.
For those who wanted to stay a while, sofas were set up with wine and cake for visitors to relax, take in the scene and chat.
The space was designed to explore the impact of home and its absence – when home doesn’t feel welcoming (and the damage that can be done), or the feeling of longing for a home when you don’t have one.
A temporary home, at least, was offered to the curious drawn by the Fringe Festival. Of the several hundred visitors who went through the space, most were from outside the Church, demonstrating how we can offer hospitality in new and engaging ways.
For more information on Mission and Service funding please visit: