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Shafina Jaffer, Take Me Away

As the Royal family sat alongside a crowd of 20,000 guests on the grounds of Windsor Castle, and 12 million audience members around the world watched from home, artworks by RCA students were projected onto the Castle’s facade, creating the colourful backdrop to the Coronation Concert for His Majesty King Charles III.

The spectacular event saw The Royal College of Art, The Royal College of Music, The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera, and the Royal Shakespeare Company collaborating together for the first time, for a star studded evening of art, music, dance, and theatre.

The unique ‘starry night sky’ inspired artworks were created by students from across all Schools at the RCA, and explored themes of sustainable futures, connectedness, spirituality and diversity.

Describing the experience, Hannah Waterman, a MA Visual Communications student from London, said:

“It was surreal to see my artwork on such a large scale and by so many people. It’s definitely encouraged me to imagine my work on bigger installations in the future. I want to be very ambitious with my presentation going forward.”

Shira Wachsmann and Ameera Kawash (PhD, School of Arts & Humanities)

Orbital Bloom

For German-Israeli artist Shira Wachsmann and Palestinian-Iraqi-American artist Dr Ameera Kawash, the Coronation Concert marked an opportunity to show their thanks to The King, who they said was an ‘early believer’ in their Orbital Bloom project, which inspired their resulting 3D animation work for the event.

Orbital Bloom is a smart artwork project that the duo developed during their PhD studies in the School of Arts & Humanities. The project uses data produced by buildings to create artworks that enable viewers to easily understand a buildings’ sustainability journey, through the health and growth of its virtual garden. In 2022, the project received an Honourable Mention in the Terra Carta Design Lab competition, launched by The King and Sir Jony Ive, Chancellor of the RCA, in partnership with the RCA, as part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative.

Their involvement in the Coronation supported Shira and Ameera’s aims to reach a global audience with Orbital Bloom.

“On one hand, we wanted to show a sign of our appreciation for giving us our start and believing in our project. We know about The King’s commitment to sustainability, and we really wanted to create a work that would encourage a more sustainable future for everyone.”

Shira Wachsmann PhD School of Arts & Humanities

Ashraf Malek (Graduate Diploma and MA Contemporary Art Practice)

Ashraf Malek's Coronation Concert artwork

For Egyptian artist Ashraf Malek, the concert was a “once in a lifetime opportunity to bring people together and to unite people from different backgrounds”.

His involvement in the Coronation Concert marks an exciting end to his Graduate Diploma and start to his MA Contemporary Art Practice, which he’ll begin in the new term. Ashraf’s digital artwork takes inspiration from constellations, believing in their power to transcend culture and space, in turn bringing people together.

“I was thrilled and honoured to be part of such a prestigious event, but I also feel like it's a responsibility to continue doing that work that the RCA is really well known for, that speaks to not only to a local audience but to a global community - bringing them together in a way where the people actually complete the artwork itself.”

Ashraf Malek Graduate Diploma and MA Contemporary Art Practice

Shafina Jaffer (Graduate Diploma graduate and MA Painting student)

Shafina Jaffer, Take Me Away

For Shafina Jaffer, an abstract spiritual artist from Tanzania who studies MA Painting, the opportunity to take part felt like a daunting challenge, but one that she soon overcame.

She said: “The brief stated ‘starry night’, but how should the stars be placed? I thought, just go with your heart, go with the flow and let the colours flow. Let your heart speak. Don't plan, don't draw, just move, just dance on the canvas. The painting had to be something that transported the audience, and touched them. Being asked to participate for me was a big honour, being selected was obviously the cherry on the cake.”

Speaking about the influence of the RCA on her practice, Shafina said, “My whole thinking has changed since coming to the Royal College of Art. I’ve been exposed to amazing, really mature tutors, who won’t tell you what to do but guide you so the best of you comes out.”

When she was originally accepted to the MA Painting, Shaffina decided to reject the offer but changed her mind and accepted her place just 6 minutes before the deadline.

“That was the most life transforming decision for me, as a Muslim woman, a mother of three, who left everything to pursue her dreams in London at the Royal College of Art. It’s changed my life. It’s changed the life of my family. As I have transformed, people around me have transformed, and what I have learned is that art is for transformation.”

Shafina Jaffer Graduate Diploma graduate and MA Painting student

Read more about the artworks featured in the event.