On Belonging as a journey of storytelling and connection

Lauren Velvick

Early in the spring of 2021, Lancaster Arts hosted a call out for artists to explore what belonging means to us now after all the upheaval and social unrest over the last year. To find out more about this see selected artist Layla Khoo’s previous blog post here. Layla sought out those who recognise the common experience of feeling that they belong to more than one place, or that they do not actually belong anywhere. Through extensive conversations, site visits and a Creative Gathering On Belonging Layla has thought about what it takes to create a sense of belonging. Is this through language, food, clothing, places, people, art, colours, cultural events, or something else? Read on to find out about this journey in the artist’s own words. 

The next stage of On Belonging brings together the conversations, stories and experiences that people have so kindly shared about their feelings around belonging to more than one place. I have been carefully considering what I discovered during the first phase of this project to find a way of expressing this learning creatively with physical objects.

What has become apparent during the many conversations in Lancaster throughout Spring and Summer, is that there is no single way in which belonging is experienced. However, there is common ground in terms of the connections that people have made; either in the places they have felt belonging, or in their continued journey towards belonging. These connections are made through the sharing of stories, of experiences and by listening and being listened to.

To express and celebrate these connections on a journey of belonging I will be creating pairs of cups, which will share one saucer. Each pair will be decorated using drawings, photographs or writing by each participant, invited from the community of people that I have met with and spoken to so far. These decorations will express elements of where or how participants feel that they belong; either to where they come from, where they are now, or where they would like to be.

Each cup will function as an invitation, to be used for making connections whilst listening to one another, and sharing a moment of the journey towards belonging. The two cups represent differing journeys and experiences, while the share a saucer represents the moment in which those journeys cross paths and are shared with each other.

All of the cups and saucers were displayed in an exhibition at King Street Studios, between the 2nd and 11th of December, and can now be viewed online here. After the exhibition, each pair of cups will be gifted back to the person who helped to create it, both to remember this moment on their journey, and to take with them as they continue to share their story and make connections wherever they belong.

Further information on Layla’s work can be found on her website www.laylakhoo.com  

Posted on 10th Nov, 2021