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identity. belonging. expat life.

Who you are. How you feel inside. Where you live.


Living abroad confronts us in ways we never knew how.
It simultaneously challenges us AND feeds our soul.

As an illustrator I bring to life what people feel but can’t find the words to express. I go to the heart of their emotions to create a sense of Belonging.

DRAWN TO A STORY with Cath Brew

With a surname like Brew, I think it’s just plain rude to not drink coffee. Right?

Drinking coffee creates space to reflect, listen and hear the hidden voices around me: People navigating β€˜otherness’ through IDENTITY and BELONGING and EXPAT LIFE.

‘OTHERNESS’ isolates.

It creates division, prejudice and suffering.

We are all someone else’s ‘other’

Drawn to a Story exists to redress the imbalance.





What customers are saying:

Continue the Connection

Knowing it's different is the first step. It can Knowing it's different is the first step.

It can be a minefield of confusion trying to work out different greetings for someone of the same sex, of the opposite sex, for business, for personal, for strangers, for friends, for closer friends.... People will understand though if you get it wrong. I'm so glad they have when I've done it incorrectly. Learning the subtleties of culture comes with time and with observation. 
Watching local behaviours also teaches you a lot. At least that's my excuse for sitting in coffee shops frequently πŸ˜†

Knowing it's different is the first step.

It can be a minefield of confusion trying to work out different greetings for someone of the same sex, of the opposite sex, for business, for personal, for strangers, for friends, for closer friends.... People will understand though if you get it wrong. I'm so glad they have when I've done it incorrectly. Learning the subtleties of culture comes with time and with observation.
Watching local behaviours also teaches you a lot. At least that's my excuse for sitting in coffee shops frequently πŸ˜†
...

9 6
We rely so much on taking photos, capturing everyt We rely so much on taking photos, capturing everything with selfies. 
I wonder how many people make memories through other means? Art? Letters? Memory boxes?

Do you do anything?

We rely so much on taking photos, capturing everything with selfies.
I wonder how many people make memories through other means? Art? Letters? Memory boxes?

Do you do anything?
...

9 0
We take ourselves with us wherever we go. We also We take ourselves with us wherever we go.

We also take other people's biases and perceptions about who we are... Not to mention, all the new ones we encounter when we arrive.

Sometimes, wouldn't it be nice to just be you and that's okay?

We take ourselves with us wherever we go.

We also take other people's biases and perceptions about who we are... Not to mention, all the new ones we encounter when we arrive.

Sometimes, wouldn't it be nice to just be you and that's okay?
...

8 0

I remember it well.
Longing to be back together, then dreading the day of leaving again. But also wanting the leave day to come so you could get back to the stability of being on your own and not having the buffer period of 'the missing' - those first couple of weeks after you've seen each other again.
Now too with COVID19, we are seeing spouses and parents separated from their families. Only last night did I see on the news a beautiful story of two small girls being surprised by their mum, who they hadn't seen for 8 weeks whilst she worked on a covid ward.

It's not till we don't have a choice that we realise what we're made of and what we can actually cope with.
You're stronger than you think.
...

4 0
If you're a straight white person, are you aware o If you're a straight white person, are you aware of the extent that your life remains dominant and silences other voices? 'Photo credit: PRIDE: A celebration in quotes, edited by Caitlyn McNeill'

If you're a straight white person, are you aware of the extent that your life remains dominant and silences other voices? 'Photo credit: PRIDE: A celebration in quotes, edited by Caitlyn McNeill' ...

12 0

Who's been in this situation? πŸ™‚
Perhaps I should use these emojis instead? πŸ€―πŸ˜ŸπŸ˜©πŸ™ƒπŸ€¬πŸ˜ πŸ˜–πŸ˜ŸπŸ€¨
...

7 9
Sitting in limbo is hard at the best of times, but Sitting in limbo is hard at the best of times, but so much harder when all the usual parameters don't have parameters other than WAIT.

Sitting in limbo is hard at the best of times, but so much harder when all the usual parameters don't have parameters other than WAIT. ...

9 8
Okay, it's technically June, but one more for the Okay, it's technically June, but one more for the #mayonthemove2020 Challenge "LANGUAGE"

When we say language, we tend to think of spoken language and in an expat context, learning a new language.

To me, language is about behaviour. It's the hidden language that my wife and I speak in public. It's a silent language, communicated through non-verbal means.

Never knowing when someone might have a problem with us being gay, it's a language that keeps us safe.

If you're asking, "What do you mean?",
I mean THIS...
πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ We don't hold hands across a cafe table. Instead we might put our knees together and sit on the same side of the table.
πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ We don't hold hands in a shop when browsing. Instead we might lean in close to each other.
πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ On a walk in the countryside, we drop holding hands if someone else approaches. You learn that it doesn't mean anything more than 'it's safer this way'.
πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ Before you share a simple kiss in public, it's hard not to look around to see who's watching and to weigh up if they might take against you. You learn that this is not about being ashamed of your partner or of being gay, but is about personal safety.

These kinds of silent languages are powerful. They exist in all marginalised communities.

If you're not aware that they exist, consider yourself lucky that you don't have to speak this language.

You have Privilege.

Okay, it's technically June, but one more for the #mayonthemove2020 Challenge "LANGUAGE"

When we say language, we tend to think of spoken language and in an expat context, learning a new language.

To me, language is about behaviour. It's the hidden language that my wife and I speak in public. It's a silent language, communicated through non-verbal means.

Never knowing when someone might have a problem with us being gay, it's a language that keeps us safe.

If you're asking, "What do you mean?",
I mean THIS...
πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ We don't hold hands across a cafe table. Instead we might put our knees together and sit on the same side of the table.
πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ We don't hold hands in a shop when browsing. Instead we might lean in close to each other.
πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ On a walk in the countryside, we drop holding hands if someone else approaches. You learn that it doesn't mean anything more than 'it's safer this way'.
πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ Before you share a simple kiss in public, it's hard not to look around to see who's watching and to weigh up if they might take against you. You learn that this is not about being ashamed of your partner or of being gay, but is about personal safety.

These kinds of silent languages are powerful. They exist in all marginalised communities.

If you're not aware that they exist, consider yourself lucky that you don't have to speak this language.

You have Privilege.
...

17 7

#mayonthemove2020 "MISSING"
This picture has two meanings for me.

I'm missing being able to travel abroad at the moment. Yes, I'm lucky I'm alive, yes, I have a job and yes, I have a roof over my head and food in my belly, but I'm really missing getting on a plane and losing myself in another culture. Soon... I'm also missing my dad. I took this photo of the flight path on my way back to home in the UK (circled), after visiting him for the last time ever. Saying your final goodbye to a conscious live man breaks you.
...

12 3

'Culture Blend'
#mayonthemove2020
I love the cultural fusion of food that you find around the world. Combinations, influences, inspirations, expressions of passion, sampling and delighting in travelling the world on a plate.
...

14 0

#mayonthemove2020 "Culture Shock"

This really shocked me in Dallas, TX.
A woman in a bikini filling up your boat with fuel. Just like a stripper, she had dollar bills tucked into her bikini.

I was shocked for a number of reasons: * This was a family boating place. It was a holiday weekend, so there were an enormous number of families around * That the young woman was seemingly happy with doing it * I realised my own judgements towards using your body to earn money * No one was batting an eyelid, which inferred that this was socially acceptable * I'm a lesbian and nothing about seeing this beautiful woman in her bikini was attractive to me.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.
...

10 8

It's quite a revelation when you realise you've changed. The change is often so slow and subtle that you don't even notice.

And then wham!
It whacks you. Something you've always done now seems unfathomable and you know you've changed.
For me it was hearing an Australian accent. An accent that was so normal for me for 30 years.
Then suddenly it grated on me, the cultural cringe was enormous. I shocked myself.
Now, several years on, I love the Australian accent. It makes me smile and gives comfort.
...

10 0
Is it our childhoods or adult life that makes us? Is it our childhoods or adult life that makes us?  What filters do we see the world through?

Although, I've lived in the UK for almost 14 years, I think I still see the world through my Australian eyes. 
It defines so much of my attitudes and approach to life. What scares me sometimes is a feeling that I'm losing that part of me the longer I stay away. 
I try to go back regularly and go back especially the places that feed me....landscapes mainly. 
How do your experiences filter your view of the world?

Is it our childhoods or adult life that makes us? What filters do we see the world through?

Although, I've lived in the UK for almost 14 years, I think I still see the world through my Australian eyes.
It defines so much of my attitudes and approach to life. What scares me sometimes is a feeling that I'm losing that part of me the longer I stay away.
I try to go back regularly and go back especially the places that feed me....landscapes mainly.
How do your experiences filter your view of the world?
...

11 1
See you on facebook at 2pm British Summertime. See you on facebook at 2pm British Summertime.

See you on facebook at 2pm British Summertime. ...

1 0
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