Home Away from Home

Hello! My name is Christie Chan. I’m an artist and writer originally from Hong Kong.

Two years ago, I moved to Sunderland to reunite with my other half, Rory, who works in the art sector in Tyne and Wear. Other than Rory I barely had any connections in Sunderland back then. Knowing little about the city initially, I was uncertain whether it would accommodate the professional development I had envisioned for myself. But in finding my bearings in Sunderland over the last couple of years, I have discovered some nourishing creative opportunities that the city has to offer. Following Rory’s success in applying for Sunderland Culture’s inaugural Creative Development Fellowship, we co-founded a curatorial initiative called Art Matters Now, through which we have built fruitful working relationships with artists and cultural organisations across the region and beyond. (Read Rory’s blog post to learn more about the beginnings of Art Matters Now!)

When Sunderland Culture announced its second round of Fellowships in early 2021, I saw it as an opportunity to expand my creative repertoire as an individual, as well as a chance to advocate for cross-cultural awareness and empathy – a topic that has always been close to my heart. I submitted my application, putting forward a proposal to produce a multimedia publication that explores diaspora experiences in the UK. To my great delight, my proposal was selected.

With the bursary offered by the fellowship, I was able to manage the production of a zine and a digitally-rendered VR exhibition called ‘Home Away from Home’. These have brought together artworks and texts that look into the fluid notion of ‘home’ and diasporic narratives surrounding it – from frustrations to contentment, shared vulnerabilities to collective hopes. Using my perspective as a recent immigrant, I created new writings and drawings for the project, whilst also commissioning contributions from other UK-based diaspora creatives. These contributions include paintings, digital illustration, video work and prose. They can be viewed at this link: https://artmattersnow.org.uk/home-away-from-home

My immigration journey in the UK coincidentally set sail during a precarious time of an unravelling pandemic. Despite the challenging circumstances, I feel fortunate to have been given the resources to realise a collaborative platform that celebrates the artistic voices of minoritised creatives. It has also been a privilege to be able to experiment with immersive technology along the way, which has very much become an integral part of Art Matters Now’s continuing ventures.

I’d like to thank Sunderland Culture for playing a crucial role in not only funding my creative project, but also allowing experiences that have given me the additional confidence to thrive in this country I now call my second home.

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Do you have a story to share? How have you unleashed creativity during lockdown? We would love to hear from you! Let us know of your creative ideas by emailing us at [email protected]

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