The Wandering Henge: An extension of the ZAO project.

[Brief: ZAO. Design project 2019]

This is a Design project that began with the brief: ‘Zombies, Aliens & Others‘. The aim was to collaborate with other designers and grow a project addressing how one of the above terms is relevant to the Design world.

We decided in an initial collaboration to focus this project on researching the existing Occult, the objects and people surrounding it and combine it with modern day technology.

My research included the discovering of pagan groups and participation in rituals as well as visiting the Oxford exhibition Spellbound to research the magic artefact and compare historical and actual DIY style versions.

We inicially created AXIOMA, a group that tried to encompass different experimental DIY style objects and ideas.

An online map was created to pinpoint negative areas around London, in each area we placed a copper-stone marker. These areas were marked so that the group could then address and begin creating narratives around these areas.

Finally we tried to create a ritual that could connect these objects and negative points. However it seemed to close to the existing Occult.

This project, so far, was very fantasy based, for this reason I choose to continue to develop it by myself. Through my initial group collaboration we had began to further this project by looking into sacred spaces and the politics that surround them, in particular Stonehenge.

Stonehenge costs 19£ to enter, plus the price of travel. Once there, you are allowed to walk by, but not touch the stones, this is to protect the stones from us.Like so many places considered sacred, there are terms and prices surrounding their entry. No longer can we press our hands against the cold stone. We are denied tactility because there is no trust. This relates to a far wider feel of mistrust in London.

For our final collaboration the group decided to help me with my idea of building our own version of Stonehenge. We made a papier-mache, human size replica.

How this idea then developed:

On a Visit to the Cuming historical archive, one of the curators explained how magical objects would not have been found in wealthy areas such as Kensington, but rather in poorer areas where people would have had a stronger need for faith and hope.

Following this visit I began to study the Victorian poverty maps by Charles Booth (1886-1903) showing areas of lower and higher income in London – by colour. I then found and compared them to a modern version from (2015+). This bright and disturbing graphic method, seemed immediately negative, labeling a whole area by the income of the people living there. Defining the way we experience its streets.

Left Charles Booth’s poverty maps- Right modern 2015+ version, based on salary.

But visiting these areas, I didn’t feel poverty, I felt the chaotic mix of colours and cultures that makes London such a vibrant and unique city.

So choosing between the 30% of the supposedly poorest areas, I decided to bring the Henge to several of these areas, finding places within them central to the communities that they encompassed.

This Henge, unlike its restricted cousin, can move. This is our Henge and we can take our monument on a self directed pilgrimage, creating a ‘pop up sacred space’ where you are invited to touch, dance or freely interact within this space.

The Henge is a space to remember that imagination still has a place in the heart of each community, where trust can still be built.

Folkestone Gardens community park. Within the 30% of the ‘lowest salary’ areas in London.

Fueled with participation a collaboration surfaced with another Design project called “The Umbhas group”, that led to a self-directed pilgrimage around areas extracted from the poverty maps.

The ‘Umbhas’ created a participatory performance inside the Henge space, where ones sight was taken away with blindfolds and a new way of communication was explored through rhythm and clapping. The aim was to exploring the concepts of vulnerability and trust, allowing themselves to be in a space without judgment. When the blindfold is removed one becomes hypersensitive of their surrondings.

The following are some visuals of the project:


[Brief: ZAO. Design project 2019]


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