Gift to the City
Gift to the City is a visual art trail designed to help us feel seen and less alone. It speaks into our self worth and collective belonging.
Rachel Ho left hundreds of small scarred pots on the streets of three cities for members of the public to find and keep as a gift. A small gesture of hope. The scarred pots are inspired by kintsugi, an ancient Japanese technique of mending broken pottery with gold. This results in more beautiful and precious pots. The porcelain pots are deliberately scarred to symbolize the fragility of our lives. These scars are then filled with gold lustre; expressing the mystery of new beginnings and new life even in our deepest pain.
Rachel believes art has the capacity to take some of our most painful emotions and give them colour, texture and form. The aim of the project is for people see their own scar reflected back to them and to feel less alone. The project is a window in our shared human condition that we are all scarred.
The art trail started in Stoke. Rachel partnered with Festival Stoke to place her Kintsugi inspired pots on the streets for members of the public to find and keep. The pots were left in public gardens, outside train stations, park benches and window ledges, Some members of the public went on a pilgrimage to find the pots others just serendipitously discovered them. People were invited to upload an anonymous comment on how the pot resonated with their story. Some of the stories can be read below.
In 2022 Rachel partnered with PassionArt and left 120 pots on the street of Manchester. She collaborated with Micah Purnell, designer and text artist. Micah left 120 wooden ‘You Are Enough’ engravings. Both artists left their art in public spaces but also in a number of charities, such as Maggie’s Centre, MacMillan, Hope for Justice and 42nd Street. Public venues such as Manchester Art Gallery, St Ann’s and Manchester Cathedral also welcomed the project and a number of art works were hidden within their buildings. Manchester radio and a number of social media platforms supported the project.
In 2023, Rachel and Micah partnered with Cathedral Arts Festival to bring the project to Belfast. They were joined by local artist Orla Gilkeson. It was a PasssionArt funded project.
Rachel says; “as a N.Irish artist I’ve always desired to bring the project ‘home’ to the people and the place that bear scars and understands the beauty of ongoing repair.”
"I love the ridges I can feel from it being thrown on the wheel, and the brightness of the gold filled scar. The scars of my depression are invisible but still a part of who I am."
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"I am so excited to have found this scarred pot and I love the idea behind it. My scar is invisible, the feeling of loosing my dad. I will treasure this find as a reminder of the many times we visited Manchester together.'
"I heard about your trail this morning on my way to work. My mum has stage 4 lung cancer and underwent a massive surgery in January to remove most of her left lung. Needless to say, she has a massive scar! This scarred pot is a gift for her, a reminder of the journey and the courage she is showing. Thank you."
"My pot found me. I love that the scar is still broken even though it has been carefully mended with gold. You can see all the way through. This resonates with me deeply as a recently diagnosed autistic woman. For years, I have been wondering why I didn't function the way I thought I was supposed to. But not all pots are made to be useful vessels. Some are made to be hidden and golden and treasured."