‘No Home Like Place’ is the title of a group show at Marts in Murwillumbah of which I am part of. Our group statement says, ‘We are seven local artists from widely differing backgrounds and experiences who explore what the notion of ‘home’ means to us, from the geographical idea of place and the physicality of objects to the psychological and the intimate.’
A few days after the show opened, the gallery closed its doors due to the corona virus. One of the many small, big, bigger and huge events that were cancelled.
I’d like to share my art piece and artist statement ….and give our exhibition a bit of an airing. It must be a bit stuffy in that room by now.
I grew up on a farm in a village in Germany. My culture was very bonded to place and region, its customs and language. There is a name for that in German – Heimat, which means homeland. It evokes the ideas of love, loyalty and attachment to place, and denotes a kind of idyllic world that offers identity and safety. Its loss is unfathomable and brings misery and homesickness.
The twists and turns of the notion of home have pre-occupied me ever since I came to live in Australia 37 years ago at the age of 26. I felt hopelessly entangled with the word home. There are so many conflicting feelings about the loss of home, the longing for a place to call home and the vulnerabilities of not feeling at home.
It seems to me that I had taken up my ancestors’ sense of belonging from my mother through the umbilical cord. It was still alive in me, still pulsing and calling me back. My home and my mother are 17,000kms away. This artwork is 170m long, which represents the 17,000kms scaled 1:100,000. I started making the work while visiting my family in Germany last year, and I finished it here in Australia.
Here is a video of the exhibition: