Hsc Belonging Peter Skrzynecki and Ben Heine

Individuals may feel a sense of belonging to many people and places. This sense of belonging can enrich the individual, becoming a positive influence on his or her life. Ben Heine is the skilled photographer behind the photograph titled ‘Home’. This photograph uniquely explores ideas about belonging as to provoke thought in regards to the viewer’s perception of what it actually means to belong. Likewise, these ideas surrounding a connection to people and places are expressed in Peter Skrzynecki’s Immigrant Chronicles.

Belonging is the central theme throughout the photograph ‘Home’ which is clearly represented through the caricature of a child girl establishing herself in a fantasy world she is depicted drawing herself into. Ben Heine’s image represents reality versus fantasy which could also be viewed as not belonging and belonging. He has accomplished this through holding a pencilled sketch over a section of adjoining photograph to make something real into a distorted fantasy. Unlike novels, poetry or songs, images cannot be expressed using a considerable amount of words. Instead images must display visual techniques to convey ideas.

Heine has incorporated numerous visual techniques into his photograph to achieve such complexity in depth and meaning. As the title of the photograph suggests, this image displays images of home, which provokes emotive thoughts towards the people depicted in the image. Within the salient image is a vector where your eyes are drawn towards and then follow a path to where the artist wishes you to look. In the image ‘Home’ Heine has drawn a vector stemming from the centre of the young girl, which is then followed up the girl’s arm where she has written the simple word ‘Home’ as a logo upon the singular house.

This provokes thoughts as to whether the child and her mother standing to her left actually have a place to call ‘Home’. In ’10 Mary Street’, it is the house that provides a literal and psychological place to belong. It signifies the Skrzynecki’s’ search for security, identity and safety and is a refuge from the new and strange environment. The family invests too much in its importance, however, and the personification of the house’s ‘China blue coat’ reveals its fragility and that the nature of belonging to a place is transitory.

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This reveals the poet’s recognition of the position of vulnerability the family are in at the hand of their rigidity and exposes the dangers of relying on a place to belong. In ’10 Mary Street’ the Skrzynecki’s’ have a home, unlike the little girl portrayed in ‘Home’ who has to draw a fantasy which includes a house and family to belong. The entire photograph ‘Home’ depicts reality versus fantasy. The reality in the image is exemplified by the use of colour whereas the fantasy is shown in black and white sketching.

The fantasy is a perfect illusion which would easily be concealed as reality if it weren’t for the obvious contrast between the colour palette, and lack of it. The pencilled fantasy is a perfect world however it is clearly a child’s fantasy. The girl’s mother standing next to her seems oblivious to the girl’s imaginative world. She is absorbed in what is right in front of her; reality. This is similar in ‘St Patrick’s College’ as Peter’s mother is oblivious to her son’s wishes. In the last paragraph the poet states “prayed that someday mother would be pleased… hat the darkness around me wasn’t “for the best”. The repetition of this negative phrase “wasn’t for the best” reinforces Skrzynecki’s negative attitude to his mother’s choice of education for him as she was initially merely “impressed by the uniforms of her employers sons”. It implies some criticism for his mother’s choice of school based on the ideas and attitudes of others and perhaps not on what is best for her son’s personality and happiness. The God-like hand stemming from the right hand side of the image ‘Home’ is holding the sketch.

It is as though he is giving the girl opportunities, foresight into what her life could be like, a guiding hand making dreams come true. In the fantasy is a simple home and at its base lays a car, happy smiling people united by held hands. It is a wealthy area which is clean, unpolluted and uncrowded. This description is juxtaposed by the reality which is a poor, dirty, polluted, crowded looking area. The people in the fantasy holding hands are a representation of family, happiness, familiarity, safety and acceptance. Interestingly in reality there is just the girl and her mother without a father figure present.

However, sketched in the child’s fantasy world there is a family; a mother, a father and a daughter who are united by held hands. This representation of belonging in the fantasy contrasts the reality as in the reality there is a large distance between mother and daughter where the mum and she are separated. This is shown by the tilt of the mum’s head away from the girl. The transition between childhood and adulthood often leads to a distancing between parents and their children. In the poem ‘Feliks Skrzynecki ‘ this idea is evident ‘as like a dumb prophet watched me pegging y tents further south of Hadrian’s Wall’. The simile, ‘like a dumb prophet’ and the metaphor ‘further south of Hadrian’s Wall’ emphasises the gap between Skrzynecki and his father because of different life experiences. Feliks is both dumb and prophetic as he portrays a certain lack of knowledge of the English language; whereas Skrzynecki’s English grows and Feliks is powerless to speak up about his son’s movement away from him. He is prophetic as he can foresee that his son will come to value his heritage in later years at the expense of his dislocation from it in youth.

The image ‘Home’ is like a story. Firstly, you look through the vector into the girl’s fantasy then your eyes are drawn towards the mother who is clearly at peace with her culture and third world. She has accepted her life, unlike her young daughter who is metaphorically represented reaching up for more than what she has. Then your eyes are drawn to the bottom of the picture where both the mum and daughter are being supported by their third world structure. This is a metaphor as they need their country; this is their ‘Home’. They are ‘citizens of the soil. ’

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