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Artists including Tacita Dean and Shezad Dawood have created works for a new exhibition and auction (From the Ashes) using paints, inks and pastels made from ash and charcoal salvaged from the burning of the Amazon rainforest.

The works, created by 29 Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, will go on show at the Old Truman Brewery in London (20-25 February) and under the hammer at Christie’s London 9 March (post-war and contemporary day sale), raising funds for the Xingu Indigenous communities of the Amazon. Other participating artists include Sarah Ball, Cornelia Parker, Idris Khan, Andy Goldsworthy, Loie Hollowell, Aislan Pankararu and Richard Long.

The social art enterprise Migrate Art is behind the initiative which has been organised in collaboration with the London-based arts research centre, People’s Palace Projects. Simon Butler, the founder of Migrate Art, was motivated to launch the project after spending time in the Brazilian Amazon in July 2022, witnessing how the Wauja and Kuikuro people are grappling with deforestation and climate change.

“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; he was given permission to bring back ash and charcoal from the burnt remnants,” a project statement says. Part of the sale proceeds will go towards firefighting equipment and monitoring technologies in the various villages.

Asked why she felt it was important to participate, Tacita Dean tells The Art Newspaper:[The organisers] did something very intelligent and pretty wonderful; they’ve recycled ash into paint and inks and pastels and they’re beautiful things actually. They are made of the cinder, ash and the burnt trees [from] the destruction. So it’s very clever—[there is] direct contact to the place that you are trying to raise money for.” Migrate Art partnered with Jackson’s Art Materials, Unison Colour and Cranfield Colours to create the ash and charcoal materials.

Thiago Jesus, head of climate action at People’s Palace Projects, adds in a statement: “The Amazon is suffering one of the worst droughts in its history amid continued criminal deforestation. From The Ash­es sheds light on the resistance of Indigenous communities fighting the climate crisis and the importance of their cultural practices in protecting the Amazon from the destructive impacts of human activities.”

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