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Totem pole reaches final resting place

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By Donald Turvill
Dumfries and West
Totem pole reaches final resting place

A PIECE of indigenous Mexican art highlighting the threat of climate change reached Dumfries last week – its final stop on a tour of the UK.

After making the 9000 km journey across the Atlantic, The Totem Latamat toured iconic and culturally significant places up and down the country on its way to COP26.

Following the summit’s conclusion, the four-and-a-half metre-tall totem arrived in the grounds of The Crichton last Monday.

Sent by a group of indigenous Mexicans, also know as Totonac people, the Totem Latamat is a message to fellow indigenous communities and world leaders calling for immediate action to prevent further climate change and environmental devastation.

Throughout the week, the public were invited to pay a visit to the campus and see the installation. A panel discussion reflecting on the totem’s journey and COP26 was also held in the Crichton Central on Friday.

Carved by Totonac artist Jun Tiburcio, the artwork was ceremonially ‘returned to earth’ on Saturday in a ritual held in the grounds, emphasising the ‘cyclical and transient nature of life and art’.

Jun 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.”

The piece was brought to Dumfries as part of Border Crossings’ ORIGINS Festival, a year-long programme showcasing and celebrating creative output and performances by leading Indigenous artists and thinkers.

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