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I'M STAYING Adaptation to the Home (Summer Project)
Letrangere Gallery
4th July - 7 September 2019

Adaptation to the Home
Watercolour and Ink on Acid Free 300gsm paper. 210 x 297mm

The I’M STAYING project initially commenced from a personal moment, a longing to understand a place I had been living for sometime having just departed (Bristol in 2013). It was a place I would have called home. I wished to understand my relationship to the city which included the many houses I had lived in, my friends, part time jobs, studio, local pub, and everything else that creates our own individual community. I wanted to undertake this investigation, but not in isolation, as for me that is not how we (humans) operate. I wanted others beyond me to consider something similar, in essence what makes a place a home.

The I’M STAYING neon travelled around the city of Bristol for 2 and a half years moving quarterly via the Bristol public voting online and ballet. The Bristol public voted, for community centres, artistic hubs, museums, local swimming pool, a school theatre, adult learning centres, local bar and many more. These places all have a sense of congregation, somewhere that becomes activated by the public. The public was in a way announcing places that had value to them and their community. The neon was a statement of affirmation but also a provocation for some. A statement which instilled hope, to fight back gentrification and corporate development, such as when Co-exist hosted the neon at Hamilton House, who for years fought against their eviction which happened end of 2018.

As the British political landscape shifted during the neon’s travels around Bristol, its discourse began to widen with a more significant political and social reading, especially as its final launch at local bar The Old Bookshop, coincided with the EU Referendum. The neon then disappeared for 2 years becoming more politically poignant as time went on, all the while stored in crates, awaiting the right opportunity to be presented once again. In 2018 the neon arrived in Central London, the home of UK Politics with Westminster, 3 miles down the road from Leadenhall market the neons new home, in the City of London, the old square mile. The UK political debate increased in volume, though the neon has always been defined by its context, which could initially be read as a mirroring of the historic market’s resilience over the centuries as the landscape around it has changed.

London was largely remain with 28 out of 32 boroughs voting to remain, but the impact of the anti-immigration rhetoric surrounding the Brexit debate has made many feel unwelcome in a country which is their home. The I'M STAYING neon can not solve any political issues, and it never was intended to do so, but it still creates an air of positivity when individuals share images of the neon online, some using subtle hashtags such as #imstaying #whatever #hereiam or #imstaying #metoo with others stating more obvious messages such as "Oh London, I have love/hate relationship with you, but soon we will have 10 years anniversary. And I'm here to stay"

The neon at times can feel like a beacon of optimism, for others to use for there own personal message, wether that's to defy certain political groups or a personal reminder of why we are here in the first place. We all have a right to a home wether that's somewhere you are born or move too. I have had many places I have called home each underpinned by my own narrative. There was a moment when the neon first arrived to London that I felt the discourse had become so politically intertwined that it had become de-personalised but I was wrong.

I have since commenced a new segment of the I’M STAYING Project titled I’M STAYING Adaptation to the home, which is about addressing this broad discourse the neon is generating politically, but from a more human perspective. I aim to translate the statement I’M STAYING into as many languages as I can, but not via google translate, but by meeting people in my local community and talking with them. By sharing a short moment with a stranger, to discuss about what makes this place a home for both of us, we are coming from the same perspective.

The I’M STAYING neon currently resides in a city where over 300 languages are spoken on a daily basis. Each of those languages echoes beyond this island we call a home, and resonates to multiple points on the earth which are also someone’s home. The fact is we have more than one home, and I’M STAYING could exist anywhere in the world. The I’M STAYING neon has become recognisable in its colour and font, and this is extended in the more delicate neon watercolour/ink drawings, seen below. The stereotype that many British people only speak a single language feels more truthful in somewhere like London, with multiple languages being heard. The idea that a word can be understood simply from its font and colour, I hope presents the potential.