Swallow It: Scene Peng on her winning work for London/Paris: EUROPE
Scene Peng is Central Saint Martins’ winner of the Foundation Diploma in Art & Design’s London/Paris project, supported by Eurostar. London/Paris is an annual collaboration between Central Saint Martins and The Paris College of Art Foundation programmes, and this year students responded to the theme of Europe. Work from London/Paris: EUROPE is on show in the Window Galleries 21 March – 27 April
How did you come up with the idea for this project?
My partner from Paris College of Art guided me there. She mailed me a hand-made notebook of research and there was a sentence “The world-wide game of politics and consumerism”. It came to my mind when I was drinking hot water with my pills. I suddenly felt like diagnosing Europe — it was sick too. It needed someone to prescribe it pills.
How did your ideas develop?
I wanted to tell a truth in my way, like a forecaster. I figured if something honest and specific exists in my work, the audience would simply relate to it. Like, “in the particular lies the universal”. It’s a quote from James Joyce I think. So, in my way of telling the story of Brexit, I would like to cure this sickness. And I think the pills will do so.
Can you tell us a bit more about it and how it was produced?
The supermarket has been the source of most of my research. I bought a perfect 30-pill box there, which was the draft I used to make my pill packet model. I painted the pills with my markers. As suggested by my tutor Tim Meara, I finally designed a package with some sarcasm-free text for the pills.
What difficulties did you encounter in putting it together?
I was afraid of workshops at first. I was not a good craftsperson. I did not know about the machines and the materials needed to make the pill packet, so I just carefully entered the workshop in Archway and watched the 3D students working. Finally, I reached out to the tutors who were patient and helpful. The pill packet was made in 5 minutes. So easy from start to finish. I was lucky.
The brief was on the theme of Europe. What does Europe mean to you?
I may ask ‘What do I mean by Europe?’ first. To Europe, I am an outsider. It is a place of beauty, nature and dreams. However, as an outsider, it is also a word related to Brexit, which is more familiar to me these days.
Part of your prize is a trip to Paris, what are your plans?
I am actually looking for a stranger, or a strange friend to go with me on the trip. I like knowing a new person in an unexpected way and travelling is the most interesting one. We will have enough time to sit down and talk. Now I just need someone to show up!
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
It’s called subjective and objective. I am interested in the relationship between these two words. I will focus on one typical thing created by a subjective group which could elicit different opinions objectively. Home, as a place to live, can be both private and public at the same time. I am visiting different houses of people within my society and the houses of strangers, if I’m invited. What matters is not tidiness or fancy furniture, but the special arrangement of things in that house. Conversations with the house-owner will be recorded. I will transfer them into a transcript booklet. The other documents will be displayed in a 3-wall room in a visual language inspired by Virtual Reality and the grid system. I am quite excited. Strangers did invite me into their homes and we had a nice time talking. They said that they had never observed their house as I did. We felt grateful towards each other.
What are your plans post-Foundation?
I am considering taking a gap year — I would like to visit a new place in Europe and work as a native person, but my passport doesn’t allow me to do this. I do want to try a new lifestyle. If I stay in London for further study, I will find a freelance part-time job outside my field, like a gardener, to refresh myself.