Rafał Zajko | The New Block Commission

Corns and Calluses, 2024

Corns and Calluses is a new commission from artist Rafał Zajko that explores labour, land, and play. The bright blue hand is sprouting wheat: it is part-human and part-plant; the artist is imagining a future in which humans might exist in innovative, unexpected forms. Zajko is often influenced by Science-Fiction, and this work marries his interest in the future of our planet, with landscape, farming, and industry. Corns and Calluses prompts us to consider the possibilities of our planet’s evolution and our relationship to it.

The title refers to hard, painful areas of skin that can be caused by repetitive pressure. Zajko draws a parallel between the pressure on farmworkers’ bodies as they work, and the pressure on the land as it is cultivated by industrial farming that can be harmful to our planet.  

This work was produced alongside a new commission by Zajko at St Peter’s School, Huntingdon, which saw the artist collaborate with 270 Year 7 Students to create a work based around their desires for the future. A new series of sculptures now unfold throughout the school, with a major new artwork situated at the entrance.

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 many different materials and processes, including ceramics, ventilation systems, prosthetics, and performance to examine folklore, science fiction and queer technoscience. His work places an emphasis on industrial materials and the body’s relationship to technology, drawing from his own family history of working in fields and factories in Poland.

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