Campaign for Empathy: A Message, 2020, Enni-Kukka Tuomala
The “Campaign for Empathy: A Message” is a travelling audio artwork spreading messages of hope, joy, togetherness and empathy from the future generation, in their own voices and their own words. The “Campaign for Empathy: A Message” marked what would have been Arbury Carnival 2020, the popular local event which normally brings everyone together in North Cambridge.
Of course, like many events in 2020, Arbury Carnival could not go ahead as planned. Understanding how important the carnival is in bringing together the local community, Kettle’s Yard’s Open House artist in residence, Enni-Kukka Tuomala, wanted to find a way to bring people together through a shared experience, whilst remaining safe and physically distanced.
Artist Enni-Kukka Tuomala was selected by North Cambridge residents back in January this year, to work with them and Kettle’s Yard throughout 2020. Finnish-born Enni describes her practice as an empathy artist and designer. Tuomala’s ambition for her 2020 residency is for North Cambridge too become the most empathetic community in the UK and in March launched the #CampaignforEmpathy.
To mark National Empathy Day on the 9th June, pupils at the Grove Primary School in Kings Hedges worked throughout the week with artist Enni-Kukka Tuomala to explore empathy in their revamped school settings. Enni, who is based in London, joined the class virtually over pre-recorded videos and shared creative activities through the school.
One special element of the project was recorded messages from the children to give encouragement to their local community in Kings Hedges and Arbury. The messages included support for the community, personal thanks to neighbours who have been helping individual families, and also a group thank you to the NHS. These messages were shared from a loud speaker from a specially adapted bike which travelled to mark what would have been Arbury Carnival. The “Campaign for Empathy: A Message” is a travelling audio artwork spreading messages of hope, joy, togetherness and empathy from the future generation, in their own voices and their own words.
University of Cambridge Museums (usually) supports the Arbury Carnival by bringing together artists and local community groups to create costumes for the annual procession. The theme for 2020’s procession was to celebrate countries of the world. Artist Anu Ann Templar instead devised a series of costume-making video tutorials to enable people to make and take part from home. The videos were shared via Facebook in the lead up to the carnival and people then shared their videos and photos of their own ‘at home’ processions through social media.
The ‘Campaign for Empathy: A Message’ bicycle travelled the route of the procession sharing the children’s messages before travelling through local neighbourhoods and shopping parades to enable residents to enjoy the messages from their doorsteps.
One by-stander mentioned:
“I would normally be manning my stall at Arbury Carnival. It’s so lovely to hear these messages and to bring a smile to our faces.”
“Even though we are not in lock-down any more, it’s a great way to help those who are feeling isolated and give them hope. Thank you”.
The special Campaign for Empathy bicycle was joined by members of the Arbury Carnival committee and carnival host, Jezo, to bring the carnival feeling to everyone physically distancing at home. People dressed up in their crafted costumes and shared images to develop a ‘virtual procession’ from home.
It is more important than ever for us to sustain and strengthen our community partnerships throughout the pandemic and enable local groups to continue to do their amazing work empowering neighbourhoods in the city to shape the diverse cultural offer of Cambridge.
To listen to the Grove Primary Schools special messages, click here
To find out more about the Campaign for Empathy follow the #campaignforempathy on social media or visit for information and activities to try at home: www.kettlesyard.co.uk/campaignforempathy