Place is a pattern of rhythms. I wrote the start of this on a train. I write this part at the desk in my bedroom. I work from the morning up until lunchtime. Sometimes I work downstairs at the kitchen table. The house is south facing, so the light that comes in through the windows is soft until late morning. The day is punctuated strangely, patterned in a different way to a day at an office, or a bar, or a café. In an office I would not leave my desk as much. I would feel less comfortable. Places accrue different qualities; they form their own microcultures. This word ‘culture’ crosses between subjects and scales. Biology. Anthropology. From the microculture of my room, to the culture of the city, to national culture. Each has its own media, its own “middle position”, its own conditions of existence. More and more, the conditions of my bedroom are being mixed with others. Where the culture of work was previously experienced in different physical structures, it has changed, migrated. Where the culture of entertainment emerged in cinemas, clubs; where the culture of education emerged in schools and universities, now these cultures slip from those moorings and begin to mingle in my room, like microplastics in the ocean. I wake up and I am in many places.
Yet, I still feel as if I am in only one position. It helps me to think of place concentrically, one place nestled inside another, the smaller places distinct yet part of the larger ones. This is an exercise which could continue ad infinitum (concentric circles all the way down…or in?), but I like to stop at the borders of my own body. I do this because I am trying to reconcile simplicity with complexity, both of which can be used to qualitatively describe places. I go from my body to a slightly larger place: a building, a locale. In many ways, I still identify home with the house I grew up in from the age of four, in Forest Gate, London. This house – its physical composition, its furnishings, the colour on the walls, the images and objects my parents had brought back from time spent in Kenya and Nigeria and the behaviours of my parents and siblings within it – has shaped my structures, my patterns, of value and action. I have carried these patterns across to other places, just as I have carried the patterns of Essex, where I went to school, Epping Forest, Hackney, Shoreditch, Soho, Camden, The Lake District, Devon, Cornwall, Normandy, Brittany, Lancaster, Tuscany, Bologna, Bath, Bristol. There are patterns everywhere.