Tuesday, September 28, 2010

where strangerhood and welcome meet

Below are some images I used for an installation space at Scots School in Albury last week. We spent time wondering about notions of strangerhood and welcome. The phrase "where strangerhood and welcome meet" was shamelessly stolen from the beautiful artist (beautiful work and beautiful person) Shaeron Caton-Rose. We were very lucky to meet with Shaeron in her home in a village near Leeds while in the UK. Her phrase prompted some questions about home, longing and belonging. I sat with a group of the boarding students and some questions for an evening:

Where do you feel like a stranger?
Where do you feel welcome?  

there was a chance to spend time with some stations:

as we travel through life
people stop and welcome us in
take a seed
and a piece of paper
make a prayer/hope/wish for someone who has welcomed you
and plant your prayer and seed so they can grow

what does it feel like to be a stranger?
when are you a guest?
where has strangerhood given you comfort?

where do you feel comfort?
what do you long for?

who do you welcome into your life or home?
what would you like to give a stranger or friend?
take a metal tag
write your answer with a pin
attach it to a gift
we welcome the stranger

the students were incredibly generous in joining me in these explorations and made some beautiful contributions to the space. One of my favourite moments was when one of the students went around "labelling students with love":

the boarding students at Scots are a really special group of people and I will really miss the group in year 12 leaving at the end of this year. They have allowed me into their space, their home, on a number of occassions this year and I'm really grateful for the welcome I receive from the Chaplain, students and staff. I am incredibly lucky to be working with such a gracious school.

thanks to Scott and Frontiers in Photography for making beautiful music for me to play in the space. It worked perfectly.

Monday, September 27, 2010

maps and power

I have recently returned from the UK, and am still finding words to describe my experiences there. Today it seems appropriate to post some reflections I had after I saw an exhibition at the British Library: ‘Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art’. It was an incredible exhibition, made up of historical maps from across the globe. This one was my favourite, Fra Mauro World Map c.1450 by William Frazer, 1804, considered by many to be the first 'modern' world map:

I wrote after I had visited the library:

“Maps have largely been used for the power and influence of rulers throughout history. They depicted actual and aspirational dominions of the ruler….The actual power they held, and the power they hoped for…"

This exhibition made me think a lot about my own spheres of influence. I wrote:
"What propaganda does the map of my world hold? Where are the new edges for me to draw? What hopes can I portray in the map of my world?”

These questions continually surface, as I consider the power I hold, and the powerlessness I often feel. I need to respect and recognise both my power and my powerlessness to be truly human today.

what is it we are doing here?

After twighlight,
At her desk,
She ponders the implications of signing in crayon.

(I saw this poem on a train the other morning as part of Melbourne's Moving Galleries. And I liked it a lot.)