An indigenous carved artwork will be exhibited in Milton Keynes ahead of the COP26 climate change conference in the UK later this year.

Carved by Totonac artist Jun Tiburcio, the Totem Latamat piece will be exhibited between October 5th and 10th at Station Square outside Milton Keynes Central railway station, as part of a UK tour ahead of the COP26 conference due to be held in Glasgow.

The Totem Latamat is set to travel 9,000km from Mexico to Glasgow, stopping at iconic locations across the UK, before arriving at the Indigenous Elders’ COP26 camp around the Sacred Fire in Glasgow’s Hidden Gardens.

As part of Border Crossings’ ORIGINS Festival, Totem Latamat is a message from the Totanac people to our communities and world leaders conveying how deeply interwoven our existence is with nature and the need for immediate action to disrupt the damage done by climate change.

Though colonisation has historically and deliberately obscured Indigenous voices, COP26 will highlight the crucial role of Indigenous people and local communities in mitigating and adapting to the climate emergency. Cut from a single cedar tree and standing at 4.5m tall, Totem Latamat demands that neither it nor its message be ignored.

The piece will travel to important cultural hubs across the UK including London, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Manchester drawing powerful links between Indigenous experience and local heritage. Following COP26 it will be ceremonially returned to the Earth, emphasizing the cyclical and transient nature of life and art.

Jun Tiburcio said, “For the Totonac people, birds are our messengers. In the totem, they tell us that we must take care of all life… At the top of the totem are hummingbirds, representing the aspiration for a new consciousness: they are messengers of peace between humans and nature. The face on the reverse represents the state of emergency in the world. We are so close to reaching the peak of this crisis and the raised arms of the Totonac culture represent the balance that we must find in the mind and the heart. We need to act quickly to care for the world through prayers, thoughts, connections, and laws.”

Intercultural theatre company Border Crossings’ ORIGINS Festival is a multidisciplinary celebration of Indigenous arts and culture from around the world. The 2021-22 Festival offersan unprecedented and evolving year-long programme, transforming digital and physical spaces into vibrant sites of creative enquiry, intervention and performance by leading Indigenous artists and thinkers. The festival offers an opportunity to engage with the work of Indigenous artists and activists and ORIGINS’ themes of climate, covid and colonialism.

It will be in Milton Keynes 5th -10th October 2021 at Station Square.

More info can be found at originsfestival.bordercrossings.org.uk/programme/totemlatamat