Judith Alder

Home is Where... a video animation made for CIRCUMNAVIGATION. 2009


Recorded at Eastbourne’s Napoleonic Redoubt Fortress, this short animation is one of a series of works which explore the notion of home. Artifacts in the Redoubt’s Military Museum include letters and personal memorabilia from POWs and soldiers at the front, highlighting the importance of home as a place yearned for, treasured, missed - a place worth fighting for. Simultaneously, there are constant reminders of the horror of destruction and violation of the home in times of war, and the distress and misery of people displaced by war all over the world.

Ironically, the new enemy at the Redoubt is a colony of pigeons who take every opportunity to invade and occupy the open ventilation shafts of the building’s original structure. In contrast, the part played by pigeons in war time is highlighted in one of the museum displays with a miniature scroll of paper and a tiny cylinder into which the paper fits for attachment to the leg of a carrier pigeon.

A little research about carrier pigeons leads to the PDSA's Dickin Medal, "awarded to animals displaying conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty" and given to 32 World War II pigeons who between them saved hundreds of lives. How ironic that these "brave" pigeons (possibly ancestors of the unwelcome squatters at the Redoubt), were considered heroes while simply following their natural instincts to fly home at any cost.