What does home mean to you?

I have started to develop ideas for a new project called ‘Home’.

Home is a space located in time, which has strong emotional meanings. For most of us, home is a place of physical and psychological safety. But, for others, it may be a place of threat (such as living within a domestic violence relationship) or prison-like isolation (like being old, with ill-health).

Home is a universal human experience, in my view. It may be a permanent home, such as the houses that we live in typically. Or something more transient, such as those of nomadic or travelling people’s. We might fill our home with many possessions, or it may just be the bag that we carry on our back. Even if a person lives their day-to-day life in a nomadic way, I expect that in their mind they have a prior experience of home, and what it means to them.

The home can be a place where complex life stories play out. A home can be a mansion set within a private country park, or a shop doorway for a night. A home is not just a physical space, but it is a psychological space. It’s a boundary between what’s ‘out there’ and whats ‘in here’. The obvious starting point of this boundary, is that it divides ‘safe’ from ‘unsafe’. In the world of the ‘in here’ complex life stories, emotions and dramas can play out. These may be family stories, but they may also be individual stories.

People can spend a lot of time, effort and money on making their home very personal and meaningful to them. They might take a house and recreate it in their own way to become a home that feels uniquely theirs, that says something about them and the way they like to live their lives (whether they know this or not).

Leaving and returning home (‘crossing the boundary’) can be an emotional experience. Someone returning home after a long period of separation may be confronted with memories of prior experiences, particularly upon the nature of their last leaving. One person may have left to excitedly travel and explore the world, returning home to tell tales about their adventures. Another person may have left suddenly breaking connections with their family,  returning years later to mark the passing of a family member. Their return may be marked by more complex feelings of loss, unresolved anger, guilt and sadness over the lack of ability to repair a broken relationship, or even to simply say goodbye and have some form of ‘closure’.

Sometimes, we might invite people into our home as guests, other times we might not. Some homes have little in the way of protecting the space, whilst other homes might have security systems, guards, etc. to keep unwanted people out. When a burglary happens, people can feel unsafe, frightened, violated and angry.

What I would like to do in this project is to create photographs that explore some of the ideas that help us to understand what ‘home’ might mean for us and others. Everyone has a unique and individual understanding of home, but those meanings are built from ideas that circulate in our society about what a home ‘should’ be. What I would like to do is create images that connect contemporary meanings of home, with the individual perspective of the viewer of the images.

If anyone reading this has any thoughts on what home means to them, I would be really interested in your views…

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