Carol Sorhaindo | The New Block Commission

The Golden Crown, 2023

The Golden Crown is a new commission from artist Carol Sorhaindo that explores memory, reflection, time, and fragmentation.  During her residency at Wysing Arts Centre in 2022, Sorhanido researched natural dyes, and botanical histories in Cambridgeshire, in particular Cambridge Botanical Gardens and Wimpole Hall, a stately home close to Wysing, where she explored plants with economic and colonial connections.During this time she encountered the pineapple motif, which features in the centre of The Golden Crown. Pineapples in the 18th Century symbolised colonial power, high status and wealth, and were often displayed and grown on estates like Wimpole Hall.

In 2020, Wimpole Hall was named in a major report by the National Trust on its properties’ connections to the transatlantic slave trade. Amongst the Hall’s many links to colonialism, Attorney General and Lord Chancellor Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690–1764), who purchased the property in 1740, issued legislation that removed the right to freedom of runaway enslaved people who arrived in Great Britain and Ireland. This gave slavers the legal right to enforce their return to the plantations.

Sorhaindo has meticulously overlaid her work with tangled fibres extracted from pineapple plants. The process of extracting these fibres served as a meditative channel for reflecting on histories, unravelling narratives of joy, pain, migration, trauma, resistance and healing. These fibres serve as a filter through which the world is viewed, representing veins, boundaries and networks, with each section holding its own fragmented history and narrative.  

Carol Sorhaindo is an artist who draws inspiration from nature, landscapes, and plants with economic, health, and ethnobotanical interest, found where she lives on the island of Dominica. Having lived in the United Kingdom and Dominica, Carol’s own migration story, entangled with transatlantic histories and the trading of plants and people, inform her art.  

Carol Sorhaindo’s Wysing residency was part of The World Reimagined Project, a ground-breaking, national art education project to transform how we understand the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its impact on all. 

The New Block Commission is a new set of commissioning from Wysing Arts Centre. Supported by the Art Fund Reimagine Project, the New Block Commission moves away from indoor, exhibition-based projects to a site-based approach that makes our work more visible. 

Rafał Zajko | St Peter’s School

Rafał Zajko
We Were Here (Producers), 2023
Natural stone powder, bio resin, pigment  

This sculpture celebrates past, present and future students and their journey through St Peter’s School. The title refers to the way that schools create ‘producers’: students who leave traces in their school, and then go on to make an impact in the wider world after they leave. It is also a tribute to teachers, and their supervision of students’ growth. The colours match the St Peters School crest: red, blue, green, and yellow.

We Were Here is inspired by weekly workshops that Zajko held with Year 7 students, in 2022–3. Together, they explored the future by discussing what they wanted to change about the present, and what they wanted to keep. They designed time capsules and used Artificial Intelligence to explore the future of living, working, learning and farming in Huntingdon. 

The project references Huntingdon’s rural surroundings, the school’s proximity to factories and manufacturers, and the artist’s own family history of working in fields and factories in Poland, which resulted in his lifelong fascination with the body’s relationship to technology. 

Rafał Zajko and Isabel Curaming
Untitled, 2023
Portland stone powder, bio resin, pigment, earthenware

Under artist Rafał Zajko’s guidance, Year 7 and Year 10 students reimagined their school crest. Out of 40 crests created, Zajko selected Isabel Curaming’s work and integrated it into his sculpture.

Rafał Zajko and Greta Waring
Kernel, 2023
Portland stone powder, bio resin, pigment

This work is inspired by a drawing made by student Greta Waring in a workshop led by Rafał Zajko. In Waring’s drawing, the brain is represented by a flower that puts its roots down and allows knowledge to grow. The work is a bit like the school’s original logo, which was a tree with roots firmly anchored in soil.

Rafał Zajko
Attendance List I, 2023
Portland stone powder, bio resin, pigment

Students often leave chewing gum underneath desks. Zajko has embedded sculptures of gum chewed by Year 7 students into this artwork, permanently marking their attendance at St Peter’s School.

Rafał Zajko
Attendance List II, 2023
Portland stone powder, bio resin, pigment

Zajko cast students’ fingertips and incorporated them into this sculpture, to ensure that their time in the school is not forgotten – a very unique type of attendance list. 

All works are commissioned by Wysing Arts Centre and St Peter’s School, Huntingdon, with the support of the Henry Moore Foundation. 

Access information

The commission is located offsite at St Peter’s School, Huntingdon. Works are viewable via the carousel of photos on this page (click the image at the head of this page to open the carousel); the sculpture at the School’s entrance is visible from the road.

Artist Biography

Rafał Zajko is a polish artist based in London, UK. His work deals with issues around the industrial past exploring its environmental impact in relation to working class heritage and queer identities.

His sculptural practice incorporates diverse materials and processes, including ceramic, ventilation systems, prosthetics, and performance to examine folklore, science fiction and queer technoscience; placing emphasis on the industrial materials and processes that resonate with and honour his heritage.

Rafał Zajko (b. 1988, Białystok, Poland) lives and works in London, UK. He holds an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art, London, UK. Recent solo exhibitions include Amber Waves II, Galeria Fran Reus, Palma, Mallorca (2022). SLOT, Abingdon Studios, Blackpool, UK (2022), Song to the Siren, Cooke Latham Gallery, London (2022), Amber Waves at Public Gallery, London (2021), Resuscitation, Castor Projects, London, UK (2020); We Were Here/My Tu Bylismy, Galeria Im. Slendzinskich, Białystok, Poland (2019); Unputdownable, White Cubicle, London (2018).

He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including shows at London Open 2022, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK, New Contemporaries 2021, South London Gallery, X Museum, Beijing, China (2020); Bold Tendencies, London, UK (2020); Grand Union, Birmingham (2019) Goswell Rd, Paris, France (2019); Ashes/Ashes, New York, USA (2019); EXILE, Vienna, Austria (2019); Vitrine, Basel, Switzerland (2019); Litost, Prague, Czech Republic (2018); Focal Point Gallery, Southend, UK (2016). 

About St Peter’s School

At St Peter’s we believe that, as educators, we can and must make a difference to the lives of the young people in our care. We work to ensure that the school enables our students to maximise their potential whatever their ability, background, culture or belief. We have high expectations and aspirations for all our students, and we work to prepare them fully for the future beyond our school, recognising, nurturing and celebrating individual skills and talents.

St Peter’s School are delighted to be able to offer all year 7 students the opportunity to take part in the Learn, Aspire, Exceed (LAE) Curriculum. The LAE curriculum has been specifically tailored for St Peter’s students to give them an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills outside of the normal curriculum. The LAE curriculum is purely focused on inspiration which nurtures our ‘Learn, Aspire, Exceed’ philosophy, making learning a joy. The majority of the Wysing Art sessions will be part of the Learn Aspire Exceed Curriculum.

St Peter’s School believes that this extended curriculum gives opportunities for students to enhance their learning and the different job roles and responsibilities associated with more practical work. Research shows that participation in extra-curricular activities can positively impact on attainment, increase a pupil’s positive identification with school, and build self-confidence and resilience. Research also shows that children that do not have access to these opportunities fall behind, lack confidence, and fail to develop career aspirations.

This Wysing Art project will play a significant part in inspiring our future students to become engaged in extracurricular activities. 

This project will also impact our student leaders and our Art Ambassadors across all years by supporting the development of their leadership skills, and support further communication between the school and the community which is crucial for the development of the school in further years.