ISLANDS OF CLAY Excerpt
by Shaan Patel, AA First Year
15 May 2013
The Islands are about the construction and destruction of architecture as a ritual.
‘Islands of Clay’ is a project where a series of telescopic (collapsible) shells are placed in several courtyards of council estate blocks in Vauxhall, London. The festival involves a month-long ritual where this shell is excessively decorated by wrapping it repeatedly with thick colorful clay ropes. The festival ends with the residents of the council estate coming together to pull down this shell; peeling off this layer of clay, which falls to the ground. As these layers of broken clay debris pile up over the years, they form a mound almost like an island of a different kind of ground in the courtyards of these council estates.
This project aims to translate a few characteristics of an existing Indian festival (Ganesh Chaturti), such as the construction and destruction of effigies, into a new festival that could be proposed as the means to an alternative form of public space in Vauxhall. The project also introduces elements of other Indian rituals like circling an object repeatedly as a mark of worship. The placement of my islands in the courtyards of council estates relates back to the festival of Ganesh Chaturti where the effigies are placed in the courtyards of collective housing to be worshipped for ten days. The variation in the color and texture of each rope marks each house’s part in this colorful cycle of construction and destruction.
For more information:
First Year Programme Brief
First Year Microsite