Henna Asikainen

Artist

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I am a Finnish artist based in the UK. My artwork is concerned with humans’ complex relationship with nature and its intersections with social justice, climate justice, migration and notions of belonging. The work has developed alongside increasing scientific, social and political concern for the habitability of the planetand the possibly permanent damage that our current economic system is causing to both our own and the habitats of all other living things, as well as the more immediate impact of climate change on how we live and where we live.

 

My work is often made with the participation of people who have a lived experience of displacement and of seekingsanctuary. These participatory projects explore ecological and social issues through communal experiences withinrural landscapes and examine issues such the importance of access to nature and green spaces and how a senseof homelessness – of not belonging – is produced through exclusion.

Collaboration has been an important part of my working approach ever since my practice led PhD (2004) which was a unique project made with the Brazilian artist Silvana Macedo. I am currently an Associate Artist at D6: Culture in Transit and Artist in Residence at NEST - North East Solidarity and Teaching (Newcastle University’sstudents Union programme supporting refugees and asylum seekers).

BETWEEN TWO SHORES
2021 --

Between two shores examines the interrelated issues of climate change and especially climate induced migration, its human rights implications and the climate injustice at its roots.

 

The project is grounded in the environs of Lindisfarne and the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve - an environment accessed by an intertidal causeway which is threatened by sea level rise and which is marked by refuge towers for those caught out by the rising waters.

 

The project is structured around two main elements: firstly, a participatory event taking place in the unique landscape of the Pilgrim’s Way – a walk by people with experience of displacement across the tidal causeway to meet the island residents.

 

The second part is the development of a Climigration Testimonies Archive. This will consist of short testimonies from people who have had to leave their homes as a result of climate change and Lindisfarne residents’ reflections on the changes that have taken place to the tidal landscape over their lifetimes.

 

By linking the local environment with the physical impact of climate change and the related issue of population displacement the project draws attention to the difficult social effects climate change brings with it. It aims to raise the voice of those affected and calls for action in the face of our shared social responsibilities in relation to the global climate emergency.

 

The project was launched as a part of Refugee Week 2021: We Cannot Walk Alone.

 

On Saturday 11th September we walked the tidal pilgrim’s causeway to Lindisfarne to draw attention to climate injustice and to express our solidarity with all those seeking refuge - Holy Island is a place of sanctuary after all. Together the project participants (refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and the reserve scientists) walked across the causeway to meet island residents, share food, reflect on the idea of sanctuary, hospitality and welcome.

 

This project is funded by Arts Council England and Kone Foundation and is being supported by The Finnish Institute in UK & Ireland, Gem Arts, Northumberland Coast Area for Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership and produced incollaboration with The Natural England.