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First Thursday Talk | Campaign for Empathy: bridging the growing distance between us

Thursday, December 5, 2019
Opening Hours: 
Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ

Empathy Artist and Designer Enni-Kukka Tuomala shares the methods and experience from her groundbreaking Campaign for Empathy, part of her seven-month-long residency at Bow Arts’ RAW Labs. The first of its kind, the campaign aimed to uncover and understand what lives in the growing distance between the power (the local politicians) and the people (the local community) in a time of unprecedented division. 

For seven months Tuomala was based in the Royal Docks community in the London borough of Newham, an area undergoing significant regeneration and restructuring. Working closely with members of the local community and engaging local decision-makers to consider each others’ perspectives to build empathy, Tuomala hosted a programme of empathy workshops, events and exhibitions, staging an Empathy Rally in June as a part of the official programme for the London Festival of Architecture. Aiming to challenge the invisible emotional, social, cultural, ideological and economic boundaries between people in an area filled with physical boundaries from newly built boundaries like the cross-rail tracks and the numerous architectural redevelopments, to naturally formed boundaries such as the river, Tuomala established RAW Labs as the Campaign for Empathy HQ and adopted the familiar language of political campaigns to promote empathy as a powerful and collective tool for social change. Empathy is proven to increase collaboration among people with different values and backgrounds, as well as encourage cooperative and social behaviour among strangers to create more positive interactions and build more connected communities. 

In her talk Tuomala will ask what if we could bridge the growing divide between us through empathy? She will present the narrative of not only what happened, when, where and with whom over the course of the 7 month long campaign, but why and how it happened, reflecting on her experiences and learnings. Tuomala will share campaign materials, artworks, photos and videos for the first time, as well as presenting key the outcomes of the campaign; a collection of empathy tools for citizenship, and the Newham for Empathy - a new permanent public artwork in Royal Albert Wharf made for the community together with the community, commissioned by the GLA.

Book Tickets

This event accompanies the 2019 Bow Open Show, selected by Carey Young. Bow Arts presents a series of collaborative events exploring how “our current political moment” has pushed the boundaries of expression, both through art and different forms of protest.

Bio | Enni-Kukka Tuomala

Enni-Kukka Tuomala is a London-based, Finland-born Empathy Artist and Designer. Tuomala’s practice is focused on increasing issue-based empathy as the outcome of her work, reframing empathy from an ingredient in the process of creation to the output of creation. To do this she has launched the Akin Kollektiv, a series of installations, experiences, games and tools to transform empathy from an individual feeling to a collective power across age, gender, race and culture. Having worked and studied in London, Tokyo, New York and Helsinki, Tuomala’s work builds upon understanding and investigating the delicate relationships between empathy, culture, space and systems. 

Tuomala was Bow Arts’ artist-in-residence at RAW Labs, a community hub championing arts, culture and creativity in the Royal Docks, between March-September 2019. As part of her residency, Tuomala ran the Campaign for Empathy, the world’s first community centered campaign to promote empathy through art and design in the London borough of Newham at a time of Brexit uncertainty. Since 2018 Tuomala has been working with the Finnish Parliament to bring empathy into politics, and has created a collection of empathy tools for politics together with 6 Members of the Finnish Parliament. Her work is currently on show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and she has created work for the BBC, GLA, LIFT, Imperial College London, Bath University, London Festival of Architecture and Helsinki Design Week amongst others. Tuomala has a joint M.A. and M.Sc. from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. | |

Access Information

Nunnery Gallery has step-free access throughout from street level, including to the accessible toilet, and is service animal friendly. This venue does not have a hearing loop system.

Accessible parking is not available on-site but blue badge parking can be found 500m away on Fairfield Road.

If you have any questions regarding accessibility at this venue or event, would like to make us aware of any access requirements that you have in advance of visiting, or would like this information in an alternate format including Easy Read, please email or call 020 8980 7774 (Ext. 3)

Travel Information

Opening hours: Tues-Sun, 10am to 5pm
Address: Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ
Nearest station(s): Bow Road (District and Hammersmith and City lines) is a 6-minute walk away, and Bow Church (DLR) is a 3-minute walk away.
Bus: 205, 25, 425, A8, D8, 108, 276, 488 and 8 all service the surrounding area.

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Image © Rachel Cherry