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"Is there space for empathy?"

Friday, May 21, 2021 to Sunday, August 8, 2021
Opening Hours: 
Tue-Sun, 11am-4pm
Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ

The Nunnery Gallery is proud to present the first UK solo exhibition by the Finnish artist Enni-Kukka Tuomala. Tuomala’s artistic practice is focused on empathy. Through her works she aims to transform empathy from an individual feeling to a collective and radical power.

Tuomala’s exhibition this summer will examine what empathy means in 2021, in post-Brexit, post-Covid, post-colonial Britain, and what role it should play in helping us re-enter public life and re-discover physical closeness with each other. Her immersive works make empathy – an often abstract and intangible feeling – into something physical and tangible we can touch, see and feel. Tuomala will ask us to consider:

Is there any space left for empathy?
How could we re-learn to be physically close again?
What will it take to make us feel safe with each other again?
How could we practice being together?
What’s the process of re-entry into physical public life?
What does public + private space stand for in 2021?

For years Tuomala has been exploring the spaces between people: investigating the public, social, personal and intimate distances between us and how they influence our abilities to meaningfully connect with one another. In trying to understand why the unoccupied space between us is primarily defined as “negative space” through the absence of physical entities – as oppose to “positive space”, defined through the existence of emotional entities – Tuomala hopes to reframe how we occupy and share space.

About Enni-Kukka Tuomala

Enni-Kukka Tuomala is a Finnish Empathy Artist and Designer based in London. Her vision is to transform empathy from an individual feeling to a collective and radical power for positive social change through public interventions, installations, experiences, processes and tools.

Having created artworks and led projects around the world from London and Tokyo, to New York and Helsinki, Tuomala’s collaborative and research-based practice builds on understanding and investigating the delicate relationships between empathy, culture, space and systems. Her work aims to break taboos and challenge social, cultural and behavioural norms in order to remove barriers to difficult conversations and bridge the growing divides in our society, whether between humans, or humans and other species. She has worked with the Finnish Parliament since 2018 to bring empathy into politics, collaborating with six Members of Parliament to create Empatia Ele; a collection of empathy tools for politics. Tuomala has also created empathy commissions for the likes of the BBC, Greater London Authority, London Borough of Newham, Imperial College London, Bath University, LIFT and Virgin, including challenging 50 global Virgin CEOs to a series of empathy exercises as a part of the Embodying Empathy installation and launching the Campaign for Empathy, the world’s first community-centered campaign to promote empathy through art and design. 

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Tuomala recently installed her first permanent public artwork in London, and is currently the Designer in Residence 2020-21 at the Design Museum, London, and the Open House Artist in Residence 2020-21 at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. | Twitter: @ennikukka | Instagram: @akin.kollektiv


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: Tue-Sun, 11am-4pm
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.
Bike: Bicycle parking is located at Bow Church Station. The nearest Santander Cycles docking station is at Bow Church Station.

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