Carine Osmont and Alexandre Mendonca both work in medical repatriation in Farnham, Surrey. They have made two Fun Palaces having never made anything like this before. They’ve since learned astronomy, sewing, origami, 3D drawing, ceramic painting, instrument making and the science of sound.
Born in France in 1974, Carine studied British theatre and started working as a medical repatriation coordinator in 2000. She moved to England in 2007.
Born in Madeira in 1983, Alex studied political science before moving to England in 2011. He’s worked as a medical repatriation coordinator since 2013.
Though neither of them had done anything like this before, Carine and Alex got involved with the Fun Palaces in 2014 simply because it sounded fun – they’ve since learned, among many other things, astronomy, sewing, origami, 3D drawing, ceramic painting, instrument making and the science of sound.
Why was it important to you to get involved with Fun Palaces?
We first heard about the Fun Palaces on Twitter. The campaign appealed to us because it encouraged us to reclaim our physical (and social) environment and to make our own event, with arts and sciences as catalysts. We got involved because it didn’t need to be big and it didn’t need to cost anything. Because it was a very down-to-earth project that required experimenting, learning, playing, sharing, connecting.
“We are not artists, we are not scientists and yet we are a bit of all this when we make our Fun Palace”
What learning has it given you?
Making a Fun Palace is a continuing process of learning and engaging. We are not artists, we are not scientists, we are not event organisers, and yet we are a bit of all this when we make our Fun Palace. Which, sometimes, puts our capacities to tests! But it’s okay. We welcome the challenge of learning and embrace the joy of finding new ideas, experimenting. Our Fun Palace is a collaborative muddle of imagination and skills. It’s not big, it’s messy. And it brings together a very diverse group of crafters in creating social understanding.
What difference has making a Fun Palace made to you and your community?
As non-British nationals, becoming Fun Palace makers has meant going out and talking to our neighbours, connecting with our community and challenging their preconceptions and misconceptions. And ours. It has meant engaging creatively with our families, our friends, with the world around us. It has also meant getting in touch with our own selves, learning, playing, staying occupied and happy.
“for the first time we felt invited to participate actively in the production of a community event”
We had never organised any event before we made our first Fun Palace, so we don’t know how different it is to making another festival. But then maybe that’s where the difference lies: for the first time we felt invited to participate actively in the production of a community event, to make it our own, not to sit back and be told.
Any advice for prospective Makers?
Our advice for anyone wanting to be a Maker in 2016 is to sign-up and THEN think about what you want to make. We had no clue what we were doing when we signed-up to make our first Fun Palace. We did it because it sounded fun. We had no clue what sort of Fun Palace we wanted to make when we signed up for the second year. We just knew we wanted to make one. We have no clue what our Fun Palace will be in 2016, we will find out as we make it. Which is both exhilarating and liberating.