Cover design of ‘Home’ by Carson Ellis.
I picked up a children’s book in a gift shop recently entitled ‘Home’ by Carson Ellis. It illustrates, very beautifully and imaginatively, many different homes and the people or creatures that inhabit them.
I’ve always found ‘home’ an interesting concept. What is it that makes a ‘home’? I suppose it means different things to different people depending on their circumstances. A roof over our head? A place of safety or refuge? A place where we live and work? A place to be with our friends and family? A place to build / rebuild or refurbish to our own taste?
As a child I had a very strong sense of home and community and even continued to come ‘home’ at regular intervals whilst at University. Then, for two decades, came a period of itinerant living, moving endlessly around the world with my partner. We occupied numerous houses and apartments in urban and rural settings. Most of them were spacious, comfortable, well-appointed and we were happy there but none of them felt like ‘home’.
Thinking about it I guess that is largely because, for me, ‘home’ is where I feel a strong sense of ‘belonging’. It is also a place in the countryside rather than the city – despite my suburban upbringing. But above all it is about the ‘spirit’ of a place. Our rather rustic and rural home is not large or grand but it is calm, welcoming and old. It has an atmosphere that comes from being inhabited for over a century, firstly by cattle and then by people. It was, in effect, ‘hand-built’ – lovingly restored and converted from an agricultural building to a dwelling by the previous owners.
We have continued to work on this house and garden, slowly but surely, over the fourteen or so years we have lived here and made it ‘ours’. We have built a small studio in the garden so that I have a space to think and create and added a vegetable garden so that we can ‘grow our own’. We have collected all sorts of handmade objects that mean a great deal to us and, at every opportunity, have filled the rooms with people whose company we enjoy. That is, I think, why I am happy to call this place ‘home’.
P.S. I bought the book if you are wondering. Ostensibly as a Christmas gift for a godchild but it’s unlikely they will ever receive it!