Inside the exhibition raising funds for the guardians of the Amazon Rainforest

  • Text by Huck
Inside the exhibition raising funds for the guardians of the Amazon Rainforest
From The Ashes brings 29 Indigenous and non-Indigenous contemporary artists together in support for Xingu Indigenous communities.

This week Migrate Art, the pioneering arts organisation that harnesses the power of creativity to support the world’s most vulnerable communities, presents its latest project, From The Ashes, dedicated to raising funds for two Indigenous Associations of Upper Xingu in the Amazon Rainforest, whose land has been extensively targeted by illegal deforestation.

Motivated by the rising global temperatures and extreme conditions that have filled the headlines in recent years, Migrate Art founder Simon Butler joined a trip with London-based arts research centre People’s Palace Projects to the Brazilian Amazon in July 2022. There they spent time with the Wauja and Kuikuro people who are resisting deforestation and climate change within their home. The village leaders showed Butler the areas of the forest that had been burnt down due to illegal logging to make way for cattle and soy and he was given permission to bring back ash and charcoal from the burnt remnants.

Top to bottom: Harminder Judge Untitled Xingu Ash 2023 courtesy of Migrate Art and the artist; Loie Hollowell Grey Brain 2023 courtesy of Migrate Art and the artist

The ash and charcoal became the basis for paints, oils and pastels used by 29 artists including Cornelia Parker, Aislan Pankararu, María Berrío, Richard Long, Shezad Dawood and Tacita Dea to create new works on show this week at London’s Truman Brewery. 

The works will then go on sale at London auction house Christie’s, with proceeds supporting the resistance of the Xingu people, and sustain indigenous fire brigades through purchasing equipment and funding training programmes. Funds raised will also support the development of indigenous-led reforesting initiatives across the Xingu territory to help the forest recover.

Speaking about his visit to the territory, Butler said, “visiting the Amazon and the Indigenous Xingu communities has brought me face-to-face with the stark reality of the devas tation of the rainforest – it has been a sharp wake-up call. From The Ashes aims to continue raising awareness of the climate crisis, which affects everyone - after my visit, I felt compelled to do everything in my power to support the Xingu communities in their fight against deforestation. In bringing together the works of contemporary and indigenous artists, we hope to offer a new platform for discussion and action on this crisis. We arrived as strangers, but we left as friends, and I feel compelled to do all that I can to help the Xingu people in their fight to save the rainforest.”

Top to bottom: Richard Long Amazon Burning and Dreaming 2023; Piers Secunda Smoke In The Jungle 2023 Amazon charcoal ink on paper 56cm x 76 5cm courtesy of Migrate Art and the artist; Mary Mattingly Breath 2023 courtesy of Migrate Art and the artist; Julie Curtiss Shifty 2023 courtesy of Migrate Art and the artist.

Indigenous Wauja filmmaker and researcher Piratá Waurá told Huck, “for centuries, we have been using nature - urucum seeds and pequi coconut oil - to paint our bodies and our traditional ceramics. Now western contemporary artists will join us, using what’s left of the burning forest: the ashes. We hope this project will bring awareness to the illegal deforestation and equip us- Indigenous people- to recover and prevent further destruction of our territory.”

From the Ashes is on show at the Truman Brewery from 21st to 25th February. 

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Support stories like this by becoming a member of Club Huck.

Latest on Huck

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now