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An image of a dark grey slate / rock with the word paving on it. An orange price sticker has been stuck on it.

In spring 2023, Making Sense commissioned four young artists to create new work inspired by themes of inclusion and anti-racism.

Ella Soni, Esme Wedderburn, Jordan Minga and Christine Bramwell have made several new works for the Making Sense Digital Platform.

Artist Ella Soni created Paving from found paving brick decorated with the word ‘paving’ in gold leaf and a price sticker from Khan’s Bargains in Peckham.

She says: “I was initially playing around with the idea of a more typical collage for Making Sense as it felt like a medium that encompassed the feel of inclusivity and accumulation. I was struggling to make a paper collage that rounded up these ideas suitably, so ended up creating this more sculptural collage piece. Bringing together the paving slab and the Khan’s Bargain sticker felt like creating a dialogue between the weight of education, the fun of a convenience store and the inevitable act of moving on. Gold leaf is something that pops up throughout my work but using it to create text was a new idea for this project. Quite simply, it labels the brick for what it is but I like the idea that it holds a double meaning, suggesting that paving is also the act of covering, charting and perhaps reclaiming, within conversations of race and inclusivity.”

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Soni found found the paving slab when I was walking through Oxford, where she is currently studying Fine Art at university.

She says: “I’ve always felt that Oxford and the university is a place that I almost have to infiltrate as an artist. As it is so catered towards academia, it can be strange viewing its absurd traditions from a creative perspective. As a lot of my work is about sense of place, it also felt fitting to incorporate something from my new ventures into a project based in the area I grew up. I was drawn to the shape of the paving slab and then the weight that it created in my bag. It felt like I had claimed a little piece of Oxford for myself.”

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Informed by her dual heritage as British and Indian, Ella Soni’s multi-disciplinary practice engages visually and conceptually with ideas of belonging, ownership and access in connection with the diaspora experience. Drawing from what it means to exist between two cultures, her work aims to critically emphasise the absurdity of traditions while utilising modern forms of popular culture. This interaction with aspects of history has brought her to consider the legacies of Empire and ritual, alongside her own lived experiences of growing up in South London. Via the act of thinking through making, Soni’s practice enables her to bring these contradictory fragments to the present, all at once, while retaining an approach that is both rigorous yet playful.

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Making Sense brings young people, educators and researchers together to explore themes of inclusion and anti-racism, through youth-led creative collectives, teacher training, conversation and resources.

The programme works in schools to offer creative learning opportunities for young people and development opportunities for teachers. These learnings are shared online through an evolving, interactive and informative digital platform. The platform is a space for building resources and sharing experiences that show how better understandings of our shared histories can improve experiences of school life.

Making Sense explores topics such as the impacts of Covid-19, experiences of racial inequality, questions around delivering a more inclusive curriculum, mental health and the possibilities that come from increasing community, agency and amplifying the voices of young people.

We hope that through Making Sense together we can create a learning framework that empowers us to identify and challenge inequalities in schools, that captures and champions the complexity of our shared journey and emboldens us to be the change we want to see.

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Making Sense is supported by A New Direction, University of the Arts London CCW, Hauser & WirthThe RSA, and Mercedes Zobel.

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<p>Image courtesy Ella Soni</p>

Image courtesy Ella Soni