Behind the Exhibition: Nesting

By Jill Parsons

Hands weaving nests flicker through branches in an underground forest while different voices drift in and out telling their stories of home:

of sleeping rough on the beach, using the sound of the pebbles to warn of incoming threats; of sleeping in bushes and pop up tents; of the refuge offered by drugs or alcohol; of quirky and much loved homes built in the backs of vans or in sheds and tree houses; of homes loved, lost or dreamt of.

Meanwhile in a cosy willow pod, photos from a refugee artists’ collective in Calais tell their story, of displacement and tear gas, of survival and creativity in amongst the mud and battered tarpaulins of the camp.

For so many, finding a home is a challenge. House prices and rents soar (Brighton and Bristol saw the highest rent hikes in the UK this year) and wages stagnate, as jobs and rental tenancies become ever more insecure. Gentrification spreads, rendering once affordable areas ‘desirable’ and thus prohibitively expensive for the majority. Homelessness becomes a very real threat for an ever-widening section of the community.

This is an issue close to my own heart. I have lost homes to fire, financial crisis and tenancies ending abruptly. I have lived in caravans, a boat, a van, a tent and a shelter in the woods and have often been moved on from these, as though even 6 foot of land is too much to ask for and it leaves me wondering where we will all go.

There were 68,560 households living in temporary accommodation in 2015 and in London alone there were 2,869 people recorded as sleeping rough between July and September. Crisis estimate that 62% of young homeless people are hidden, existing below the radar, sofa surfing and squatting.

This is a problem that is not going away, and this exhibition is an attempt to show the human story behind it.  Each participant of my project wove a nest that I soaked in clay slip before firing to leave a fragile ceramic cast. Each of these nests tells a story and represents a moment of nesting and a journey towards a sense of home.

Jill Parsons, Environmental Artist

Nesting – A Sense of Home is open from 6th to 24th January 2016
Willow pod installation by Ellen Mulcrone
ONCA Gallery opening times: Monday-Friday 12-7pm / Saturday & Sunday 11-6pm