From the Ashes

Turning the ashes from the burnt Amazon forest into art to support Indigenous people from the Xingu territory fighting the fires

Indigenous Exchange and Climate Action
Ashes from the Amazon forest- Migrate Art

Project Overview

From the Ashes is centred around the idea of transforming the destruction of the Xingu Indigenous territory into creation, addressing the urgent need for conservation and protection of the Amazon Rainforest, and supporting the fight of the communities who call it home.

In July 2022, PPP invited London-based artist Simon Butler, the founder of Migrate Art, to travel to the Xingu Indigenous territory.  The village leaders showed us the areas of the forest that had been burnt down due to illegal logging to make way for cattle and soy and permitted us to bring back ash and charcoal from the burnt remnants.

The ashes’ pigment was then turned into paint, ink and pastels and the material was distributed to contemporary artists who created 29 new artworks which will be auctioned.

The project is dedicated to raising funds for two Indigenous Associations of Upper Xingu in the Amazon Rainforest, whose land has been extensively targeted by illegal deforestation and exposed to the climate crisis which has raised the risk of fires in the protected territory.

“For centuries, we have been using nature - urucum seeds and pequi coconut oil - to paint our bodies and our traditional ceramics. Now western contemporary artists will join us, using what’s left of the burning forest: the ashes. We hope this project will bring awareness to the illegal deforestation and equip us- Indigenous people- to recover and prevent further destruction of our territory."

Piratá Waurá, photographer and teacher from the Wauja people

Video produced by Ray Okudzeto and edited by Pedro Kiua for Migrate Art

Ashes From Ashes by Stanley Donwood

The first release of this project was ‘Ashes from Ashes’, a print series by artist Stanley Donwood. The three editions feature scenes of environmental degradation and have been printed using ash collected from burnt areas of the Amazon, highlighting the urgent need for conservation and protection of the rainforest.

“Visiting the Amazon and the Indigenous Xingu communities has brought me face-to-face with the stark reality of the devastation of the rainforest. In bringing together the works of contemporary and indigenous artists, we hope to offer a new platform for discussion and action on this crisis. We arrived as strangers, but we left as friends, and I feel compelled to do all that I can to help the Xingu people in their fight to save the rainforest.”

Simon Butler, Founder of Migrate Art

The Exhibition and Auction at Christie's in London

In February 2024 we opened an exhibition of new works by 29 contemporary artists – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – from around the world, including Cornelia Parker, Idris Khan, Loie Hollowell, Richard Long, Shezad Dawood,  Tacita Dean and Aislan Pankararu at The Truman Brewery in London. Beautiful ceramic artworks by the Wauja indigenous artisans were also on display.

These illustrious artists have joined forces to create unique From The Ashes pieces, using paints, inks and pastels formulated from the ash and charcoal salvaged from the burnt remnants of the Amazon, created in partnership with Jackson’s Art Supplies.

These works have been sold as part of Christie’s post-war and Contemporary art auctions in March 2024. The proceeds will support the resistance of the Xingu people, and sustain indigenous fire brigades through purchasing equipment and funding training programmes. Funds raised will also support the development of indigenous-led reforesting initiatives across the Xingu territory to help the forest recover.


“From The Ashes sheds light on the resistance of Indigenous communities fighting the climate crisis and the importance of their cultural practices in protecting the Amazon from the destructive impacts of human activities. This is especially important since climate change can only be addressed by considering the cultural integrity of Indigenous peoples. At People’s Palace Projects, we believe in the power of the arts to change people’s minds and hearts, and this initiative is a powerful artistic message of regeneration, care and hope for the future.”

Thiago Jesus, PPP's Project Manager

From the Ashes Exhibition Catalogue