Common Salt-2

Image Credit: Sheila Ghelani and Sue Palmer

Common Salt is a performance around a table – a ‘show and tell’ – that begins a national tour this Autumn, and there’s a chance to see it in Cambridge, Lancaster, Somerset and at the Queen’s House, at Royal Museums Greenwich in 2019.

Common Salt explores the colonial, geographical history of England and India taking an expansive and emotional time-travel, from the first Enclosure Act and the start of the East India Company in the 1600s, to 21st century narratives of trade, race and culture.

Funded by Arts Council England, Common Salt is on a national tour through the Autumn of 2019 and Spring 2020 to museums, libraries and arts venues across the country, including The British Library. Common Salt has been specially developed for libraries and museums, and historic places with hidden histories and collections.

A small audience of up to 25 people per show (with two shows in each venue) sits around the table to watch Common Salt.  The artists were inspired by the form of the ‘show and tell’ and the ‘nature table’ in making the performance.

Common Salt activates insights into our shared past, laying out a ‘home museum’ of objects and stories; of the Great Hedge of India, of borders, and collections – all accompanied by original Shruti box laments.

Sue and Sheila undertook months of research into the many threads that go into Common Salt, exploring the interconnectedness between history and global power, artefact and trade, race and memory, and to question the collective amnesia that seems to travel beside history.

This national tour builds on showings of Common Salt in 2018 where it was very well received by audiences, who called it ‘mesmerising’, ‘thought-provoking and poignant’, ‘powerful’ and ‘exquisitely crafted’. One audience member described it ‘as like reading a book in 3d real life’.

Common Salt is in Wells Library Somerset on Saturday 19th October, at Cambridge Junction on Monday 21st October, and in Frome Library, Lancaster Maritime Museum and Yeovil Library in November.

The Autumn tour concludes with Queen’s House in Greenwich in early December, before continuing in 2020.

Supported using public funds by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Developed with support from b-side and One Final Act by Rajni Shah Projects.

Performances : October – December 2019 :

Common Salt-1

Image Credit: Sheila Ghelani and Sue Palmer


Kings College London, | Thursday 17 October | 11.00am (with post show discussion) – fully booked

Wells Library, Somerset | Saturday 19th October | 11.00am & 2.00pm |

Cambridge Junction, Cambridge | Monday 21st October | 5:30pm & 8.00pm |

Frome Library, Somerset | Saturday 9th November | 11.30am & 2.30pm |

Lancaster Arts / Lancaster Maritime Museum | Saturday 16 November | 3.00pm & 7.00pm

Yeovil Library, Somerset | Saturday 30th November | 11.30am & 2.30pm

Queen’s House, Royal Museum Greenwich, London| Friday 6th December | 11.30am & 2.30pm |

For more information and to book tickets |

Common Salt on tour in 2020:

Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, OSR Projects Somerset, Manchester Library, Leicester Attenborough Arts Centre, Museum of London Docklands, Holburne Museum Bath,  Folkestone Fringe, the Live Art Development Agency London and The British Library.


#Common Salt



Notes to Editor

Sheila Ghelani and Sue Palmer both work individually as artists whose work spans performance, audio and moving image. Each artist’s practice centres on using research to make artistic work with detail and resonance, for public places, made for the passer by or the guest; making new work with and for the public is the meeting point between artist and context.

Sheila and Sue first collaborated as part of Sheila’s Rambles with Nature project, developing an experimental collaboration bringing their strengths and interests together through language and object, music and lyric, political and social geography, wit and wryness.

Each brings an incisive intelligence, an ambitious and inquisitive approach to making work, with a wealth of experience in working collaboratively with institutions, places and people. Both artists are skilled and crafty at using charismatic live performance and visual media to present intimate, implicating and gently unfolding connective experiences for audiences, with exquisitely produced visual materials.


Sheila Ghelani is an artist of Indian/English mixed heritage, whose solo and collaborative performances, social art works, installations, texts and videos seek to illuminate and make visible the connections between race, ecology, science, history and the present day.  Since 1995 her attentive, detailed and care ‘full’ practice has been cross-pollinating ideas, materials, people and places in order to un-settle dominant narratives and make space for those that are (or that which is) in-between, on the edge, in the middle, at the border.

Sue Palmer has worked for over 30 years using contemporary arts practice to engage people and public space in the UK and internationally. Commissions include ‘The 100 Year Old Band’ in Germany and Finland alongside work for Battersea Arts Centre, B-side festival and many non-arts organisations including the National Trust and the Forestry Commission. Sue has worked in a diversity of contexts using live and digital art forms across the UK and internationally, and was an Associate Lecturer in Performance at Dartington College of Arts.

For more information: |


Contact Sue Palmer:

Or Sheila Ghelani: