Acceptance, fitting in, connections, attachments, closeness, inclusion, societies. All of these words are closely related to belonging. What do these words mean to you?
Belonging is a perception. Depending on our upbringing and values, we have different understandings of it and what it means to fit in. To me, it is a personal connection with people, places or a certain culture. We all seek a place where we feel we fit in; it is a natural human desire, but what is it that makes you feel like you belong in the first place, and what makes you feel like you don’t?
Shaun Tan’s ‘The Lost Thing’ is a picture book that explores barriers that prevent belonging. Too often we are quick to judge others based on their physical appearance. Shaun Tan demonstrates this through the ignorance of society towards the lost thing. His illustrations show a large contrast between the dull, industrial background and the vibrant red thing. One illustration in particular shows an appropriation of a famous artwork, ‘Collins St at 5 pm’ by John Brack, a monotonous cityscape of Melbourne, showing near identical figures all walking in the same direction. Shaun Tan’s appropriation was similar to the artwork, but included the large red thing in the background, contrasting the lost thing to everybody else and displaying how today’s society turns a blind eye on anyone that looks out of place. There were also various stamps in the book with slogans such as "sweepus underum carpate" meaning to ignore it. This highlights society's obsession with organisation and conformity, and how it prevents people who are different from belonging.
Similarly Peter Skrzynecki’s St Patrick’s College also explores barriers that prevent belonging, but contrastingly,...