Yesterday saw me finish the Bromley House Library residency with a sharing and discussion event. It was a lovely morning of conversation, exploring and reflecting on ideas and connecting to others. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work at BHL and have loved the time and glad of the friendships made. Below is part of the talk I presented before I asked the question to catalyse a conversation: Do you want to be truly seen…. ?
Bromley is a place that cares for and supports legacies, collections of Books and maps and docs and photos and pamplets etc. Items created by people which in effect allows ‘them’ ‘people’ to be kept. I was struck by this very early on as we are surrounded by attempts at being remembered. As I maker I identify with this.
I wondered whether BHL was, and this sounds grand, fending off existential concerns – fending off being forgotten. But when I thought more I realised it’s not about being ‘remembered’ rather ‘ noticed’ – seen – cared for. This chimed with people I spoke to about how this this place met their desires and needs. It matched my sense of it too. And I found it too in the ambition or actions of the staff . So I thought hard about being forgotten. Why given all the knowledge, words, possibilities available to me here had this become the thing I was attracted too?
I read some science and began to know that being forgotten is as detrimental to self-esteem as being ostracised or rejected. And there is was… it was about being marginalised… a theme central to my practice. My attraction to BHL wasn’t rational it was emotional. BHL is holding a space for people – which in therapeutic terms means ‘a safe place where people are seen and healing can happen’. It was a refuge / a solace. But here was the problem which if im honest I’ve grappled with for the whole residency. How do you represent in a meaningful way notions of being forgotten or being seen? And it’s only very recently have I worked out what the right thing to do was and why.