Monday, June 25, 2012

Where or What Says 'Home' to You?

Every year events take place all over the country in June to mark Refugee Week and celebrate the cultural, social and economic contribution made by refugees to life in the UK.

Keen to support activities locally, we organised a pop-up museum in Harpur Square, Bedford as part of the launch event. Visitors were asked to bring an object that reminded them of home - however they chose to define home. We had some wonderful contributions and they sparked great conversations about home, heritage, family, exile and the objects you would grab if you had to leave your house in a hurry. What would you take to remind you of home?

Carmela Semeraro grew up in a 'Trullo' house just like this in Puglia in the South of Italy. I was struck how much more aware you became of the unusual shape of the building with its round rooms when looking at a model of it rather than a photograph. Lots of people commented on how the thick walls would keep you cool in summer and warm in the winter.

Local artist (and Borough Councillor) Kirsty Adams brought this very moving record of the people who live on her street. 'Howbury Street Permanent or Transient' is a printers tray filled with photographs on wooden blocks of her neighbours taken 14 years ago then revisited seven years later. She spoke movingly about how she is due to photograph everyone again but doesn't feel able to do so as several of the families have lost loved ones in the last seven years.

Always good for a literary link, Sally Heard from Bedford Central Library brought along Paddington. Not only does he remind her of her own childhood and that of her children, he was also an appropriate guest for Refugee Week given that he arrived alone from 'deepest, darkest Peru' and found refuge with the Brown family.

The highlight of the launch event was a song from a choir of children from Livingstone Lower School. For further details of these and other events during Refugee Week see  

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