Our visiting Artist in Residence arrives
After real time away, forty years to be exact, I have come home, alone. I am meeting my country with open eyes …my land, my mother…both of us together for the first time. Only this time it is different, strange. I am conscious of time lost, of time passing, of time remaining.
It is morning and THE CITY IS QUIET …we all know why, but god it feels so good to be back and as the streets unfold to me, I recognise its generous spirit, its sense of humour…the people, the language offering up, close, magical moments of truncated conversation: “Thank you my love“; “Petula Clark and the bit you know“; “Yeah“; “You know it’s always going to be a compromise isn’t it“; “There’s this guy“.
It occurs to me, the city has a new face, brighter, wider, cleaner. I turn into a tight winding street, a young woman screams into her mobile phone and the buildings lean low, enveloping us all in her conversation. I look across the street and a young man leaps off the pavement, suddenly running towards me and then past me, annoyed, he yells obscenities. Language, rich, diverse, elegant, my hearing acute.
The sound of an ambulance cuts in with a new mood, the tone has changed! I replay the original sound in my mind…nah nah nah nah nah nah. As I walk, I feel/see the polar bubbles of people, their individual lives floating past me, through me, I’m trying to understand at every point, my humanity. I know now as I walk, I am outside, looking in, watchful, but it’s more, I’m outside and inside, breathing London, in, out. I look up, the sun is warm on my face.
As a child I wanted to experience everything, my senses were raw, I wanted to belong to other people’s worlds, I inhabited a curious omnipresence. Now as I become aware of my incipient mortality, I think of the child and how the earthly limitations must have contributed to ignite the imagination, dreaming of portals hidden in time. Everything is open to me now. London has gifted me a sense of belonging, of home. As music blasts a beat from a car pulled up at the traffic lights, I feel a freedom to be me. Happy, angry, smiling, exhausted, curious, faces, drift past, they linger in my head and steal my heart. I understand their desires, feel their questions, who are we? why are we?
I’m settling in. My bones find their position more assuredly each day, this is my London, born from time. Change is inevitable, moving forward the past is ever-present, never lost. As my thoughts stray, I am reminded of what is beyond me, the underbelly of a city, the complexities of a life, the politics of the moment and extremities…my darkest thoughts scurry across the floor like cockroaches in the night.
Simone Kennedy, Artist in Residence