Home is where the heart is?

picture shows a tiny home shape made from cardboard
Cardboard Home, 2023, Cardboard, glue, oil pastels, string

Home, according to Mole in Wind in the Willows, is a place filled with “familiar and friendly things which had long been unconsciously a part of him and now smilingly received him back.” I read the passage this statement comes from aloud at the start of the Home workshop I facilitated for Outside In at Hove Museum on 9 December. We all shared gestures, sounds and a word to get a sense of what our homes felt like before creating artworks that depicted this feeling(s). Conversation flowed between strangers as their hands busied, and I felt delighted to sit with each person and get to know them a little bit as they made their home. You can see an image of our homes formed into a group below – a village perhaps.

picture shows several tiny homes from soft material or clay or cardboard or card and stuck to a corkboard with string and pins
A ‘village’ of homes at the Outside In Home workshop at Hove Museum on 9 December 2023

I feel the wisdom of Kenneth Grahame’s words about things in one’s home being friendly and welcoming. That is my experience and, as a neurodivergent person, I form a strong bond to things, like my drum, my Grandma’s jewellery box, my Macaw cushion cover, and the newest addition, my unicorn cat candle holder (see photo below). They have their places and I would not like anyone to touch or move them. I have a strong aversion to people touching my things, and if someone moves my things in the communal part of my home, well, I have to employ mindfulness of my thoughts and feelings with grit and determination. Thank goodness I know how to do this!

picture shows a painting with a cushion cover with an image of 2 parrots on it draped over the painting, with a shamanic drum resting against the painting, a black jewellery box, a drum beater and a candle holder in the shape of a cat face with a unicorn horn
My drum, my Grandma’s jewellery box, my Macaw cushion cover and my unicorn cat candle holder

Not all things in a home are friendly, however. I suppose it depends on the kind of home they’re in, or were in. I’m referring now to a recent trip to Hastings to visit a friend. There are many second hand shops selling ‘vintage’ items there. As we browsed, I was transported back in time to the 1970s, which was a deeply unpleasant decade for me, not least because of the horrible aesthetics that permeated everything – haircuts, buildings, decor, and home things. Things appear less than friendly in a home where a child is hyper vigilant for signs of attack from the parents. Being around so many things that reminded me of that time made me aware of how lucky Mole, and indeed, Kenneth Grahame, was to have the experience of a safe and friendly home. I am glad I now have that experience too.

The photos show the little homes I made in preparation for the Home workshop. I enjoyed making them immensely. They’re an excellent way of meditating on what home is like / means. What does ‘home’ mean for you?