FEATURE: Henna Asikainen – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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D6 invites you to join a discussion at Newcastle City Library with artist Henna Asikainen, to explore the ideas and participatory processes that led to the exhibition Delicate Shuttle, with the artist talk happening on Thursday 4th October, with the exhibition itself running until Sunday 7th October. We found out a little bit more from the artist herself…

When I first arrived in the North East of England from my native Finland some 20 years ago it took me some time to make the adjustment from being a visitor to making a home. One of the things that helped this transformation to take shape was an engagement with the history and environment of the region and particularly the incredible landscapes of Northumberland and Durham. Finding my way into these places helped me to put down roots – to begin to feel at home.  Thinking about how we understand home and how we make it has led me to work with migrant communities in the North East – asylum seekers, refugees and other displace people and they, and the journeys that they have made has become a great inspiration on my work. My own journey as a migrant was a relatively straightforward compared to the often tragic, often uplifting and always heroic stories that these new homemakers have to tell. 

When I arrived here my art was very much based on an exploration of our conflictual and often destructive relationship with nature and this continues to be the case but now with a special focus on human migration and the notion of hospitality that creates a sense of belonging and un-belonging. It embodies the collective experience of migratory movement, reflect on our relationship with place, landscape, the world and each other.

Nature is something that I find constantly enchanting. I am very lucky as I have a small plot of land with a modest hut in a forest by a lake with no running water or electricity in eastern Finland where I spent time every summer. It is wonderful place – remote and peaceful yet the locus of much transient movement, functioning as a resting place for many (including myself) as well as a short-term home for the birds that migrate there from different places and environments to build a nest. This travelling connects the forest with many different corners of the world – one home with another. Each bird species creates these magical and diverse nests only to abandon them by the end of summer, which makes me think about both the temporality of home and its endurance. When looking at the empty nests one cannot help but wonder about what happened there, who lived there, where they are now and how they are living.  It reminds us of the natural cycles of human migration and the fact that we are all immigrants of one kind or another – this is a precious reminder that just as nature is hospitable to those who journey to make a home we too need to reevaluate our relations with each other and the planet we inhabit and ask ourselves if we truly understand the deep responsibilities that this places upon us.

Henna Asikainen’s In Discussion takes place at City Library, Newcastle on Thursday 4th October.

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