'Shared Portal and Journey' is my commission in Mela Monument Project, which comprises a wooden doorway structure, over fifty hand-painted ceramic tiles, and two pairs of ceramic wall sculptures. The wooden door is ajar and erected on a circular wooden base. One side of the door is covered with colourful circular ceramic tiles, and the other side features four ceramic wall sculptures.
Most of these vibrant, colour-coded tiles are hand-painted by various community groups in Southampton during the Mela co-creation process. They contain coded answers from a short survey I developed and embed the personal narratives of their makers. The two pairs of ceramic sculptures are my own artistic response to the Mela journey. The wooden door not only provides a surface to display all these individual narratives, forming a collective story of the communities, but also carries symbolic value, representing a threshold between different spaces and times—a portal of a journey shared by many.
With this work, I am exploring the theme of "home and belonging." The idea was inspired by the creative people in the communities I met through the Mela project and my research on Mela Southampton. This colourful installation is a celebration of our diverse culture and creativity. It also provokes questions about identities and the migratory journeys shared by many under global social, economic, political, and environmental pressures.
The short questionnaire and tile template used in the community Mela workshops  
Mela Monument forms part of Co-Creating Public Space, a nationally significant project which aims to give local communities agency to engage with and activate our shared public spaces. Co-Creating Public Space invites communities to creatively engage with artists to rethink the use of the public space in Southampton and beyond. The project is led by John Hansard Gallery, with funding from Arts Council England, Southampton City Council, GO! Southampton and University of Southampton.

Community engagement Mela workshops
Meet the artists in collaboration 
Permindar Kaur
Permindar Kaur’sartistic practice extends over more than threedecades during which she has become one of Britain’s most innovativeartists. Known as much for her deft manipulation of materials includingglass, metal, and fabric, as for her evocative exploration of home, childhood, memory and cultural identity, Kaur’s practice defies easy categorisation. With its fastidious regard for scale and form, Kaur’s workis both alluring and contemplative.

Rabia Raja 
My artwork celebrates the craft of South-Asian pattern making through collective creationand cultural expression. A wooden structure decorated withafabric collage tapestrywillshowcaseIndian block printed patterns, created during workshops with Southamptoncommunity groups. The space will enclose two‘incomplete’chairs facing one another,symbolising a conversation. Attendees of the festival can participate in a pattern-makingworkshopand stick their outcomes to the surface, transforming these blank chairs intovibrant displays.The installation reflects themes of home, belonging, and identity, drawing from themeaningful conversations held during our workshops. Participants shared their experiencesof migration, settlement, and the evolving concept of home, which are woven into theartwork’s fabric. It embodies the spirit of community and cultural pride, creating a welcomingspace at the Mela, while resonating with the colourful arrayof traditional garments and theprofound sense of identity they represent

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