Wing Cradle

Henna Asikainen


Location: Portobello Kiln, Bridge Street (Open Sat/Sun 11am-4pm)

September 2nd ’23 to September 10th ’23

Weaving together myths and politics with ecological concerns, Wing Cradle connects the migration of birds with testimonies relating to lived experiences of human migration. The work draws upon the deep relationships that humans in many cultures have with birds. In Finnish mythology, for example, migratory birds journeyed each winter to a place called lintukoto, a warm, safe haven at the edge of the world where sky and earth meet. They travelled there along the Milky Way (linnunrata, in Finnish, meaning literally ‘bird-track’).

In Karelia, archaeologists once found a child buried on the wing of a swan. Developing this image and its wider resonances, Wing Cradle incorporates harnesses from a horse involved in war between Finland and Russia as well as a feathered structure made by the artist’s mother, Salame Hökkä, and aunt, Terttu Hökkä, identical twins and artisan textile workers. The structure incorporates thousands of white feathers (by-products from the manufacturing of down jackets and duvets), hand-stitched onto cotton to create a talisman of protection and love.

Wing Cradle is a collaborative piece.
Soundscape: composer, multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper
Lived experience testimonies: Zainah Adnan

The installation also takes place as part of Scottish Archaeology Month

Dr Henna Asikainen is a multidisciplinary, socially engaged artist, whose work questions human relationships with nature, and the complex social and ecological issues that emerge. Many of Asikainen’s recent projects have been built around communal experiences within different landscapes and have examined issues including migration, climate justice and unequal access to nature. Her work consistently advocates for a philosophy of friendship and radical hospitality.

Asikainen has exhibited widely and undertaken numerous residencies both nationally and internationally. Her most recent projects include Future Pasts at Gallery North, Newcastle (2023); Delicate Shuttle, Communities and Change exhibition at Newcastle Contemporary Art as part of the Memory Studies Association conference (2023); and Omens at BALTIC 39, Newcastle (2020). Originally from North Karelia, Finland, Henna now lives in Newcastle, UK.

Zainah Adnan is a creative individual, survivor, alternative medicine specialist and a single mother from Yemen.  Zainah and her son are currently seeking asylum.  Zainah met Henna while she was housed in a hotel in Newcastle. 

Erland Cooper is a Scottish, composer, produçer & multi-instrumentalist originally from Orkney. As a solo artist, he has released four acclaimed studio albums, with 4 additional companion LPs & multiple EPs, including a trilogy of work inspired by his childhood home, as well as themes of nature, people, place & time. His work combines field recordings with traditional orchestration & contemporary electronic elements.

Related Events

  • Artist Talk with Henna Asikainen

    Sat 2 September 12pm to Sat 2 September 1pm


    Come and hear more about Henna Asikainen’s installation Wing Cradle located inside one of Portobello’s two remaining bottle kilns, which she has created in collaboration with Zainah Adnan (testimonies) and […]