Lately I have been reflecting upon what makes one feel at home…I suddenly realized one day that I was slowly starting to feel at home here in Dublin and that my little flat is starting to feel like my own. To a certain extent, whether we want to live minimalistically or not, “things” do, in my opinion, help to make us feel at home. I find it fascinating that I left Canada with one medium-sized, 21 kilo suitcase and a small carry-on for an entire year. As we all know, to pay the baggage surplus is ridiculously expensive so I have decided to purchase very little while I’m here and to leave behind whatever I have purchased for my flat. That’s where my bargain hunting skills come into play! My flat is far from perfect you see, but it’s much better than the other ones I’d seen so I have decided to be content with what I have as much as possible. I compare my flat to Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree; with a little love and some decorating skills, I can make it look so much better! Surprisingly enough, my landlord gave me one week free (110 euro) as he hadn’t had time to clean before I moved in so I figured I’d spend some of that on decorating! As I hunted through the various thrift stores I found some lovely pieces for next to nothing such as this lovely stoneware piece for which I paid a mere 2 euro:
And this vase, again, 2 euro:
And for this, I paid 1 euro:
Right, so you get the picture, it can cost very little to make one start to feel at home. The other thing I did was to purchase some art and knitting supplies! I have been wanting to get back to my art for a long, long time and I plan on finally doing it this year. The walls of my place could do with a good painting, there are chips missing and some holes so I plan on covering them up with my paintings! I shall take pics and post them as soon as I’m done, promise! For now, I will show you what the house looks like from the outside:
The dark blue door is the main entrance! I live on a square in the centre of which are a private lawn bowling and a lawn tennis club. The houses on my street were built in the Georgian style http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_Dublin. I noticed a heritage plaque on one of them saying that the famous Irish movie director Rex Ingram was born there in 1892 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rex_Ingram_(director)! Each house is a little different and each garden in the front as well! Some have big beautiful roses in a variety of colours, others, like mine, a neatly trimmed hedge. If I look to my right here is what I see:
And in the main entrance, if I look up, I see the above.
There are two of them, one on each side 🙂
So like I said, it’s not perfect here, there is a greyhound racing track not far away and I can hear the announcer and the crowd screaming as though they were right here with me in my room and there is a Chinese couple next door who come home past midnight and decide to put the garbage out in the back yard (my window faces the back yard) and then, invariably,they start to argue (or so I gather from their tone) but at least I feel safe and I am comfortable here. Did I mention that the ceilings are 12 feet tall and my window is gigantic? That helps too :).
I decided to go for a little stroll this evening in an area close by I’d never visited before. I looked at my address on Google maps and noticed a Clanbrassil Street not far away so I decided to read up on it a little before I headed out! Sure enough, I found something interesting: http://www.iarchitectures.com/thehomeproject/street.html. It turns out that it was an area known as “Little Jerusalem” and James Joyce’s character Leopold Bloom from his novel Ulysses lived at 52 Clanbrassil Street! I strolled along and I saw the very home with its little heritage plaque; very cool! I kept going and to my delight found some halal grocery stores and loads of Indian restaurants! I walked in to one of the stores and finally found some real Kalamata olives and some feta cheese sold in brine!! I’ve been searching everywhere for both these items to no avail up until now! I had a nice chat with the owner who asked me where I was from (I didn’t ask him mind you) and who then asked me for how long I was going to live in Dublin. Once he found out that I was staying for a year he turned around and took a bag of candies (peach rings) off the wall and handed them to me and said with a big smile: “to make sure you come back!”. So sweet 🙂
On my way home I decided to walk on the other side of the street and as I looked down I noticed the following spray painted on the sidewalk:
“Home is where you know where everything is”
I smiled at the serendipity and thought to myself: how simple, yet true. I have been finding it difficult to not be able to find simple things like measuring spoons or a french press coffee maker (the only place that carried them was a hardware store close to my place…see what I mean?) but now that I know where to find almost everything I want, I am feeling more at ease.
I went back to that Web site when I got home and realized that this stencil was part of an art project:
“Clanbrassil Street, Dublin – 2008-2009
The Home Project explores the concept of ‘home’ against the changing landscape of the past, present and future of the Clanbrassil Street area. The words for this project are taken from a series of creative writing workshops run by Ursula Rani Sarma with 10-12 year old students living in the Clanbrassil Street area.
In 2009, curator Ian Russell worked with Ursula to create a public art installation using extracts of the students writings about ‘home’. A postcard was designed in collaboration with Zero-G (which can be seen here) and was distributed throughout Dublin, and in July 2009, a selection of statements about ‘home’ were chosen and stencilled onto both footpaths of Clanbrassil Street using a powerwasher and a lot of friendly help and support. See the final product here.
If you would like to learn more about the development of the project, there is an artist’s statement available here: ‘The Origins of The Home Project’ by Ursula Rani Sarma.
Ursula’s artist residency in the Clanbrassil Street area was part of the Placing Voices – Voicing Places Project which was funded by a Heritage Council of Ireland INSTAR 2008 Grant, administered by University College Dublin, Create and Dublin City Council.
Don’t you just love it when you discover things like this? I wonder how many people have walked over these words and have never even noticed them…I look forward to going back and looking for the others I missed!
So, what makes a house a home? For me it is surrounding myself with familiar things that can help me to create or simply things that I find beautiful, it is to get to know my neighbourhood and to appreciate the beauty of the flowers and the trees that surround me, the little architectural features, the special surprises like that art project on Clanbrassil st. and of course, the human interaction with the people that come across my path. The only thing missing now is a job and making new friends with whom I can share my experiences. Of course I can enjoy going to see things on my own but it’s much more enjoyable to see a play with another person so that you can then discuss it after over a drink or a nice supper! I have much to look forward to in the months to come…