SSI News Blog

Serena Horton brought together two seemingly disjointed activities, mosaic and surfing, to unite a community of newly arrived refugees and people seeking asylum, around the creation of a unique piece of art - a surfboard adorned with mosaic.

Serena and the Community Kitchen's Mosaic Surfboard

“There is something about mosaic which I find very satisfying, as it is almost like doing a jigsaw puzzle,” said Serena, who volunteers her time and skills at Settlement Services International’s (SSI) fortnightly Community Kitchen.“I believe it is particularly beneficial for the people who come here and may be suffering from tough times, as it is quite a therapeutic process.”

Talented ceramic artist Serena first heard about the Community Kitchen in Auburn while volunteering at Villawood Detention Centre. Now, over a year and a half later, she has been coming to the Kitchen every fortnight to share her passion for artistic expression with the local community of newcomers.

When she first started volunteering, Serena would bring clay to teach new arrivals how to make pots, plates and cups, before taking them home to fire in her kiln.

“Although clay was fun, it required a bit of guidance, and the results were not immediate because of the drying and firing process,” she said.

The spark for this most recent project, the mosaic surfboard, came in October 2018 when she began looking for an activity that would unite people, even if they weren’t returning guests.

Serena wanted the group activity to be familiar for the participants, and at the same time, quintessentially Australian.

“Mosaic is a familiar decorative art form to most people, being commonly found adorning mosques and temples, and even though Auburn is in Sydney’s west, people still associate surfing with Australian culture.”

Over six months, Serena has led hundreds of guests visiting Community Kitchen events to cover the surfboard in a rainbow of beautifully coloured tiles, forming three distinct butterflies.

Serena plans to continue volunteering at the Community Kitchen, and is envisioning a mosaic chair as the next project.

“I love seeing such a diverse group of brave, strong people come together. Being part of Community Kitchen has been amazing and it is a pleasure to spend time with such a great team,” said Serena.

Learn more about volunteering with SSI.

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