'Is there space for empathy?'

21 May 2021 – 15 Aug 2021

Regular hours

10:00 – 16:00
10:00 – 16:00
10:00 – 16:00
10:00 – 16:00
10:00 – 16:00
10:00 – 16:00

Free admission

Bow Arts Trust

United Kingdom, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Bow Church (DLR), Bow Road (District Line)

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The Nunnery Gallery is proud to present the first UK solo exhibition by the Finnish artist Enni-Kukka Tuomala. Tuomala has a vision to transform empathy from an individual feeling to a collective and radical power.


In this exhibition Tuomala examines what empathy means in 2021, in a post-Brexit, post-Covid, post-colonial Britain. She looks at what role empathy can play in helping us re-enter public life and re-discover physical closeness with each other once again. Her installation makes empathy – an often abstract and intangible feeling – into a physical and tangible form we can see, feel and enter. Tuomala will ask us to consider:

Is there space left for empathy?
Can we re-learn to be physically close?
What lives in the invisible spaces between us?
Where is the line between public + private space now?
How could we practice being together?
What will it take to make us feel safe with each other again?

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.

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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. 

www.ennikukka.com | Twitter: @ennikukka | Instagram: @akin.kollektiv #istherespaceforempathy

Exhibiting artists

Enni-Kukka Tuomala


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