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The second part of the blog is called Palace Community. Community engagement was an important part of the 20/20 Project, taking two main strands during the residency.



I went to visit the Shah Jahan Mosque, a really beautiful Mosque in Woking. There are many wonderful trees and plants in the garden, the architecture is superb, and the interior is filled with interesting patterns. I spoke with the manager of the Mosque, who was very helpful. We talked through ways of engaging the Mosque’s students, and came up with the idea (I think it was actually his idea) to organise a competition. Students would be asked to create a drawing responding to Islamic architecture, designed in colour on a single sheet of paper. The prize, if you like, was that selected designs would become patterns in the final commission. There were some really interesting drawings created by the students, and some of them were so wonderful that I did use them to create specific ceramic pieces. Lustre Pattern 2 responds to Workshop Drawing 1 and, inversely, Workshop Drawing 2 inspired Lustre Pattern 1. Both were made with stoneware clay, which darkens when it’s fired. Their forms are based on specific oyster shells; after a first firing, I painted the students’ patterns on them in layers of coloured underglazes, and fired them again. A third and final firing followed after I’d added silver lustre to the designs, to lend them a silvery glow. I’d not used lustre before, and enjoyed experimenting with this underglaze/lustre combination, which gave the works their names.



Another student created a building-like design, Workshop Drawing 3. It looked like a palace. In form and colour, this drawing inspired Palace Design, another ceramic sculpture. I wanted to create a palace that was hanging: a hovering palace. I carved the student’s design into sections of ceramic, cut from a larger slab. Quite a long time elapsed after this stage of the process, and the ceramics’ firing, to actually finishing the work; I was really interested in combining ceramics with textiles. In the studio I often use fishing nets, sewing silk textiles onto them, and thought that these combined structures could complete the hanging effect of Palace Design. The silk would wrap around the fishing net, which supported the suspended ceramic. I wanted the whole structure to hang by itself, without additional fixings. Small shells were added at points to the fishing net – I wanted it to look as if it had been found, as if the whole thing had been found. It’s a bit like encountering objects that have been in the sea for a long time; on their surfaces you find barnacles, lichen. I wanted to create that feeling, that this sculpture was a found thing, pulled out of the sea.



Another series of workshops I organised took place at The Lightbox. They were 3D workshops, aimed at families. I collect quite a lot of packaging for my work; rather than buying new materials, I like to use things that are around us. During the lockdown I collected lots of egg boxes, with a view to one day making an egg box temple. It’s not been raised yet, but I thought the families might help me. The brief was, they could make their own complete palace, or an object that might be found inside such a palace, all from repurposed egg boxes. My own samples, Palace Sample, Rose Sample, and Spoon Sample, were made this way. The attendees made some really interesting things, particularly Workshop Sculpture’s 1 & 2.



These sculptures, as well as the childrens’ drawings, are in the exhibition, which I felt was really important. We have created it together, and their work forms a key part.