I have lots of really nice things here that have come from the kindness of other people.
I live just above a community centre so it has a community aspect with lots of different people coming through.
My place has a kitchen..a living room a hall.. office/bedroom space where I work/sleep/write do all of that kind of stuff – it’s a proper artist’s garret!
This building used to be an industrial building. I like the idea that is was converted from a factory. As soon as you step outside the ceilings are really high but it’s nice that the ceilings are lower inside – it’s also less expensive to heat. I’m above the community centre so I benefit from when they put the heating on below.
I’m not from this area.
It was a series of events that brought me here: a marriage that ended.. then I spent a period of time with my parents, who are elderly. Then all that changed
While living with my parents in lockdown I did an artist’s residency in a beach hut.
People of all ages would come along for free art sessions.
Lots of families would come and join in and soon I went from knowing nobody in this area to meeting loads of people in the community. I have done art projects before but never got to talking to people in quite the same way.
It was actually one of the highest levels of participation the council have every had for any art project – and probably with the lowest costs. That’s because it was held in a place that everyone actually goes to rather than a posh place.
Through that project I met people from the council.. from different churches …voluntary Services … Gay Pride…. schools… residential care homes. And so, when I came into difficulty myself, all these people helped me.
It was like a miracle!
At that moment in time I had zero. A bag…
Emotionally I was going through quite a lot, and all these people stepped up to help me. It was quite incredible how that came to be. The organisation who own this housing complex said they’d never seen anything like it!
This place has a happy energy because of how I came to be here: I’m talking about the serious kindness of people.
So much had changed in my life.
I’m the kind of person who usually wants to do everything for myself and so I had to go into a different mode of being able to receive help. It was a hard time and I did need help.
People here sorted me out: from the cooker to the fridge… they brought me bedding…everything…and helped me moved my stuff in.
I have lots of really nice things here that have all come from the kindness of other people.
Over a couple of weekends some old friends from school slept here on camp beds and turned this place from inhabitable to habitable.
And now I love it.
It’s got such a nice energy. It’s the energy of kindness from different people.
My old school friends found me things I really needed – not expensive things – small things like cutlery trays… a washing up bowl. These were things chosen with care so they fitted perfectly. They also helped me to do a really good deep-clean.
It’s lovely now… really, really nice. It has lots of light coming from all different angles… north, south and east. Different light.
Outside there’s a communal garden space, which I have used quite a lot, and also different pockets of spaces. I have asked permission to convert one of the balconies into a little garden for growing things like herbs and tomatoes. There will be pots, plants, grow-bags. Nothing complicated. More like a herb garden.
I was visiting my parents when lockdown started and because I still hadn’t found a place to live that’s how I came to this area.
Lockdown forced us all inward. I spent a lot of time working in the summer house at my parents. I did painting there.. drawings… and I turned it into a little studio.
It was really nice to have time in nature. I would do one really long walk a day, a different direction each time.
We had a very nice time together during lockdown.
Life was centred around the garden – rather than the house. I was in the summer house every day doing workshops on Zoom online – which I’d never done before. It became a way to connect with others and to continue to work. For me it was a very positive time of change.
Lockdown didn’t feel like a restriction to me – except that I couldn’t go to London to see my daughter. That was hard.
I’m an early bird – I get up with the dawn and do meditation.
One practice I started doing years ago is to keep a dream diary. During lockdown it kind of took on a whole new flavour, it was a time of self-cultivating energy.
I have breakfast early around 6.30 am – after meditation – and then go for a walk on my own. I have started a business and work mostly at home but my meetings are International. A few clients who have stayed with me from London, for coaching and art.
If I get a commission I spend a lot of time working on the concept and if I feel blocked I go for a walk. It’s very safe here.
I don’t have a TV. I was given one but it’s not even plugged in. When friends came and wanted to watch football we went into the communal area.
I have only been living here since June but about a third of that time I have been visiting friends – and cat-sitting. Christmas, I spent in London with my family. Although this place is nice but it is a bit small for gatherings.
The rise in the cost of living hasn’t affected me that much.
My energy costs are included I’m pretty low-energy use and quite careful. I don’t think I’ve changed how I shop but I do feel that growing our own stuff is a good thing and would be a nice to do as a community.
I get my fruit and vegetables from the market once a week. There is a butchers… baker… florist… greengrocer… and hardware a lot of different choices. It is more affordable than going to the supermarket
In lockdown I realised that the outdoors is such an important aspect of life.
There was something nice about being able to step out into a garden.
My parents’ garden was very hard work, because it was big and had a pond. It was a lot of work to clean it.. look after the fish.. drain all the sludge. There is always stuff to do but it’s kind of grounding. It’s nice.
This home is a symbol of a new beginning. And I am very grateful for it.
Where I live now I have a view of the river and can see fields.
It is a place to be peaceful and calm… to cook what I like – because I love cooking. I can live a life of my own choosing. It’s comfortable…. and everything is nice.
It’s like a new beginning.
I have thrown away loads of stuff from the past. The only thing I’ve kept is my art and my daughter’s art.
I’m quite sentimental and I love the art she did as a kid. She’s not that precious about these things but I love them – especially the little books she did when she was young. Looking at them because makes me feel ‘at home’. They remind me of the nice times we had together.
My own sketchbooks are mostly of my journeys and travels and, because I am an artist, my home has lots of my art in it and other people’s art. I read a lot, I am an avid reader. A lots of books here I’ve collected over the years from around the world.
The people I am meeting here are really nice and interested in things I care about, like the environment. This is a much better fit than I have had for a long time. There is an amazing little woodland here .. the river.. the sea.. I walk out and it’s like: Wow! So beautiful. I really, really like that.
What matters to me most is a sense of belonging.. a sense of community.. like-minded people – to some extent.
My ultimate dream is to be in a community living on the land where there’s self-sufficiency of resources and like-minded people, with a vision for how they want to be.
It’s not to do with religion or anything like that. It’s more to do with a certain quality of thinking… of being.. There’s probably going to more things like that happening.
Lockdown taught us that we can be on our own but when we have ‘community’ that’s the thing that sustains us.
Without it we are on our own – and that is real isolation. Isolation with no contact with other people has no joy. Isolation is when you don’t feel free.. it is a feeling of being in prison of your own thinking.
One thing for sure is that if without community I would not have been able to make this transition without it.
It’s all down to the kindness of people.
I will always think of that, and how it came to be.
All photos by respondent.