Omens – making futures

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Henna Asikainen

Omens – making futures is a participatory art project by artist Henna Asikainen. It is being produced in partnership with Gem Arts ( and Allenheads Contemporary Arts ( and is funded by Arts Council England and The Finnish Institute in London.

Omens – making futures is a participatory event engaging migrants with a refugee background and the residents of the village of Allenheads and the surrounding areas of Northumberland.

Omens – takes its inspiration from the tradition of molybdomancy - a divining practice from ancient times involving melting metal over an open fire and pouring it into cold water and then interpreting the resulting form.

During my childhood in Finland this tradition formed part of the family’s New Year celebrations. We all cast our individual metal ‘omens’ and then holding them in the light of a candle interpreted the shadows cast to forecast our fortunes for the coming year. It was a much anticipated and magical part of New Year and an important storytelling activity that brought together the past and the future for all of us. This tradition and the individual, fragile, intricate, enchanting miniature sculptures that I made and have saved over the years inspired me to create this participatory project.

The project creates the opportunity for local and migrant communities to meet around a discussion of cultural traditions and their projected futures and in the activity of casting omens. The activity of casting the omens becomes a prompt for storytelling; the interaction of metal and water can be seen as symbolic of different cultures coming together, making new forms, interpreting the outcomes together, and by sharing these hopes & fears, generating a dialogue about our common futures.  Through this process each sculptural element is at once individual and collectively produced.  The project also reflects on the relationship between the experiences of displaced peoples who are often confined to urban environments and the expectations of rural communities (who are often opposed to migration despite having limited engagement with migrants) and seeks to establish positive dialogues within and between these communities.  After the omen casting activity is completed we will finish the day sharing a celebratory meal together.

At the end of the event the cast omens will be archived with the film/sound recordings that have been produced. At a later stage these will be form the basis of an exhibition.

Date 22/06/2019
Time 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Venue ACA – Allenheads Contemporary Arts
Old School House
Allenheads, Hexham
NE 47 9HR
Henna Asikainen
ACA Allenheads Contemporary Arts
01434 685040
Category Arts and Culture
Price event is free