Nana Sawada & Elliott Haigh

June 2019

How do we define home, the physical architecture and the phycological experience? Why do we crave the need for home or a place we define as home? Sharing a location with other species inparticular birds, something most of us do daily, though we take little notice of it, questions the concept of home and its meaning especially within species who migrate. For a bird a nest is a temporary home for one purpose, to raise their young. They will spend intricate hours building the nest and then simply leave it, this suggests a nomadic existence perhaps similar to how our hunter gather ancestors may have lived. In a society where we spend most of our lives in one location do we still feel the innate need to move and travel like many other species do? A sleeping bag is surely the modern day representation of a nomadic lifestyle. This work therefore aims to combine the building nature of birds with the contemporary human form, creating a sleeping bag that becomes a nest constructed from the environment around us. In addition to this the sleeping bag has the potential to continue a life of its own, it can grow and provide a home for other species such as insects or worms.

The unique environment of Kuba: kulturbahnhof allowed us to reflect on our own experiences and relationship to the location, as a result of this we developed strong themes and concepts that are now central to our work. We arrived at Kuba after months of travelling with an uncertain destination ahead of us once the residency was over, therefore, Kuba provided us with a chance to settle for a short while and create a feeling of home together. While at Kuba, aside from art, we were slowly planning where we might live in the future and it is now clear that this was subconsciously dominating our thoughts. Fulled by the constant connection to movement by thundering trains in contrast to the slower pace of the landscape around us the concept of home became an important aspect of our practice at Kuba. We explored our different backgrounds and our psychological desire for a home and how we might define the feeling of home for ourselves and what it might mean to other species such as the birds that we shared Kuba with. Working in natural materials such as birch wood, soil and moss we explored the materiality of the site, we discovered connections within ourselves, history and the environment that could portray our research and concepts. Through this way of working we further enhanced our desire to make work that can be returned to nature or become a part of it.

Kuba allowed us to reflect personally on our experience with the location and make work that both represented ourselves but also the environment around us, this was a new direction for us, as previously we had not made work that focused heavily on our relationship and individual cultures. The location of Kuba provided us with the freedom to experiment in a range of natural materials and spaces while also being connected enough to acquire particular art or industrial materials if we desired, providing a variety of options when experimenting with ideas. Furthermore, Kuba allowed us to publicly exhibit our work and to consider spaces away from the typically gallery space, and how this can enhance concepts within the work.

Shelf (53°14’09.4″N 11°39’49.1″E)
Made from birch wood cut and halved by hand. Birch wood represents time within the past, present and future. Birch trees are known as a colonising species that will grow in rough weak soil and will oxygenate the soil to allow other species to grow, therefore, birch often grows in urban wastelands and railway sidings. They were once one of the first tree’s to colonise Europe after the last ice age and create forest and they would likely be the first trees to grow in the remains of a city in the future post-human age. The process and refining of the wood creates a personal relationship to the object. Contemplating the concept of a home, the two sides become shelves that represent ourselves through the trace of objects that may once have adorned the space evoking a past relationship which captures the meaning of birch, the location and ourselves.