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Visual Arts – D6: Culture in Transit

D6: Culture in Transit is a visual arts organisation based in Newcastle and working regionally, nationally and internationally with artists around issues of migration, colonialism, and increasingly on those connected with the climate crisis.

One of their long-term relationships is with Finnish artist Henna Asikainen, based in Newcastle. The 2018 commission Delicate Shuttle, was an installation of thousands of white poplar leaves at Newcastle City Library, presented as part of the Great Exhibition of the North and Refugee Week. The installation was created through a series of structured ‘foraging’ walks through natural landscapes with participants from refugee and migrant communities in the North East.

Taking place in Burnlaw, Tanfield Railway and Chopwell Woods, in partnership with Land of Oak & Iron, the walks attempted to understand what it means to leave and to arrive, to lose and to find, to be uprooted and to make a home. They introduced displaced people to the environment beyond the urban spaces they are asked to inhabit, to develop an understanding of the ecological and historical context in which they find themselves.

Delicate Shuttle continued Asikainen’s interest in the social and ecological issues that arise from humans’ relationship with the natural world, using the white poplar leaf, which is itself a migrant, and which holds many meanings across different cultures. The project was supported by Arts Council England, the Newcastle Culture Investment Fund and the Great Exhibition of the North.

Asikainen’s next project takes her concerns with climate change even further. Called Between Two Shores. It is an interdisciplinary, participatory art project which examines the intertwined issues of climate change and its impact on migration and human rights.

It aims to raise the voice of those affected and calls for a political action in the face of our shared social responsibilities in relation to the global climate emergency, and highlights the absence of discussion of climate change as a driver of migration.

Although global warming and its impact is recognised as the biggest threat to humanity, from a legal and policy perspective, climate refugees simply don’t exist. There is currently no recognised legal framework that accounts for the needs and rights of those affected and consequently they lack a voice in the discussion.

Although profoundly global in its reach, the project is anchored to the environment of Holy Island (Lindisfarne). As well as an iconic, ancient and sacred site and ecologically important location, the island and its disappearing causeway serve well as a metaphor for the intention of the project; the island is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly sea-level rise.

Between Two Shores was conceived by Henna with support from Arts Council England, Northumberland Costal Area for Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, GemArts, Northumberland County Council and the Finnish Institute in UK and Ireland.  One of her main partners is Natural England (Lindisfarne Nature Reserve is under the jurisdiction of Natural England), and she will also continue to work with D6 on this project.

D6: Culture in Transit is currently engaged in the Accelerator Programme run by Julie’s Bicycle and see work connected to the climate crisis as a key strand for the coming years.

We encourage our partners and supporters to share their examples of good practice in tackling the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse and delivering a just transition. NEECCo does not undertake to quality assure these case studies, and inclusion of a case study on this website does not imply endorsement of the project by NEECCo or by its partners.

Some case studies will feature organisations who are involved in fossil fuel industries, or who are open to challenge on other aspects of their performance in relation to our objectives. NEECCo recognises that if we are to reach our ambitious objectives, all organisations and individuals within the north east will need to adapt their behaviour and actions. We want our case studies to encourage this process. Our commitment to achieving a just transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy requires us to encourage positive steps wherever they are to be found. 

We are interested in your views on the case studies so please choose to like/ dislike each case study.