Peace Cranes

Peace Cranes Installation View by Written in Film Productions. Courtesy Just Festival

Peace Cranes is a contemporary public art exhibition by Scottish artist Janis Hart about peace, people and planet curated by Iliyana Nedkova and Heather Kiernan. It spans the heritage space of St John’s Church, Edinburgh. The exhibition features a monumental, site-specific installation of 140,000 origami paper cranes folded by people from across the UK, France, Canada, New Zealand and Japan over the last six years. The exhibition explores the twin existential threats of nuclear weapons and climate change and is accompanied by a free public programme led by Scottish and international artists and activists.

Peace Cranes Installation View by Written in Film Productions. Courtesy Just Festival

The Peace Cranes exhibition is the latest contemporary art initiative of Peace & Justice – an independent charity, building a culture of peace across Scotland since 1980. The exhibition is delivered in partnership with Edinburgh’s Just Festival and St. John’s Church. Supported by a range of partners, volunteers and supporters.

Peace & Justice is one of the partners of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) who campaigned for the UN’s Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. ICAN was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2017 for its successful work that led to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entering into force in 22 January 2021.

Peace Cranes Installation View by Written in Film Productions. Courtesy Just Festival

Premiered on 6 August 2021 as a commemoration of the 140,000 lives lost following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, the ​Peace Cranes e​xhibition ran until 27 August 2021 as part of Just Festival within the framework of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Peace Cranes runs 30 August – 14 November 2021 Mon-Fri 1-3pm at St. John’s Church, 1A Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4BJ in conjunction with COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference and 2021 – UN’s ​International Year of Peace and Trust​. Admission is free and open to all.

Explore our exhibition resources below and sign up to origamicranes at for updates about related exhibition events until 14 November 2021

Peace Cranes Installation View by Written in Film Productions. Courtesy Just Festival

#PeaceCranes #JustFestival2021

Peace Cranes exhibition installation view and portrait of Janis Hart. Image by Laleh Sherkah. Courtesy Just Festival


Never Again. Louder Than Bombs

Watch our Peace Cranes exhibition opening online event held on 6 August 2021 (58 min) in partnership with Just Festival 2021 featuring Peter Kennard, Britain’s most influential political artist and Kate Hudson, historian and General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament discussing how art changes minds

Tackling climate change with the Eurasian Crane 

Watch our Peace Cranes exhibition event in partnership with Just Festival 2021 held on 27 August 2021 (61 min). Hosted by Mark Hoskyns-Abrahall, it featured Damon Bridge of UK Crane Working Group, Stephen Magee and Hywel Maggs of RSPB Scotland discussing the expansion of Scotland’s Eurasian crane population and the complex impact of climatic changes, migration, breeding seasons, milder winters, biodiversity, peatbogs, wetlands, wildlife photography and agriculture. Could the majestic crane be Scotland’s wetland icon for restoring peatlands and sequestering carbon?

140,000 Peace Cranes

Watch our short documentary (3 min) about Atsuko Betchaku – the Peace & Justice volunteer who sparked the international wave of folding 140,000 peace cranes. Written and directed by Iliyana Nedkova this short film features contributions by Margaret Ferguson Burns, Niloo-Far Khan, Mrs Betchaku, Jeff Brown and many more.

Make a peace crane

Learn how to make an origami crane with Peace & Justice volunteer Shoji Masuzawa. Just WATCH HERE at 14:03 in. Alternatively, follow our Peace Cranes step-by-step diagram. Just DOWNLOAD IT HERE. A couple of suggestions:

  • Write your name on one of the wings
  • Write a wish on the other wing
  • Take photo with your peace crane and post on social media with #peacecranes
Take action

Find out more about the facts and figures which have inspired us as artists and curators to create this monumental exhibition about peace, people and planet. We have compiled an illustrated 24 page booklet – free and available to read while visiting our exhibition in-person or from anywhere else by accessing your copy here: DOWNLOAD HERE

Crowdfund with us

Donate to our crowdfunding campaign and make peace cranes soar to the skies over Edinburgh! We need to raise a further £3,500. The money we’ve raised so far, including from Pumphouse Trust, Creative Scotland Open Fund, the William Syson Foundation and Lansbury House Trust Fund, has paid for our initial work. But we need to raise a further £3,500 towards the cost of the installation, insurance, invigilation, workshops, talks and tours as we aim to reach 140,000 exhibition visitors on site and online. DONATE HERE

Impromptu Movement

Watch an improvised movement (approx 5 min) performed live amongst the Peace Cranes installation by Sara Lockwood of the dance collective Les Impromptues on 27 August 2021 as part of their Impromptu Movements series of ‘pandemic solos’ 2020-21. Recorded live and published online, each Impromptu Movement responds to a new location and is inspired by the repertoire of the modern dance pioneer Margaret Morris (1891-1980). Yet each impromptue inserts her own variations, improvisations, and costumes extending Margaret Morris signature style movement even further. Camerawork by Paparazzi Pup.

Videostill from the artist’s documentary 2,000 Paper Cranes. A Memorial to Sadako Sasaki (2011) by the US contemporary artist Jeff Brown as screened during the inaugural Peace Cranes pre-exhibition online event on 6 August 2020

The Peace Cranes exhibition is dedicated to three outstanding peacebuilders and their life-affirming act of folding origami peace cranes.

The first is Sadako Sasaki (1943-1955) – the Hiroshima school girl who still signifies our hopes for peace and nuclear disarmament.

The second is Peace & Justice volunteer Atsuko Betchaku (1960-2017) – a historian and pacifist. In 2015, Atsuko embarked on an international collaborative project of folding 140,000 origami peace cranes – one for each of the 140,000 people who were killed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, as a way to ensure that this will never happen again. In memoriam of Atsuko, the Peace Cranes exhibition marks the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which entered in force on January 22, 2021. Watch this short documentary about Atsuko written and directed by Iliyana Nedkova.

The third is an equally inspiring woman, Setsuko Thurlow (b. 1932) – a Hibakusha and a joint Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for her efforts as a leading figure and a founding member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Read the Nobel Lecture 2017, delivered by Setsuko Thurlow on behalf of all who form the ICAN movement, including Peace & Justice.


The Peace Cranes exhibition is also inspired by the dedicated climate justice activist – Mary Robinson (b. 1944) – a former president of Ireland and Chair of The Elders – the international non-governmental organisation of elder global leaders, peace activists, and human rights advocates, who were brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 – and their #PeaceCranes2020 initiative remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki by inviting anyone to fold a peace crane.

To find out how the Peace Cranes project originated READ HERE

Origami Peace Cranes Workshop image courtesy of

Watch over seven hours of free Peace Cranes pre-exhibition events held in August and November 2020 featuring Peace Cranes exhibiting artists and activists commemorating the 75 th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

6 August 2020 10am BST | Peace Cranes | 49 min – an origami making and storytelling workshop featuring Iliyana Nedkova, Brian Larkin, Shoji Masuzawa, Magnus Byrne, Michael Mears, You-Ri Yamanaka and Jeff Brown WATCH HERE

6 August 2020 6pm BST | The Message | 6 min– artists Michael Mears and You-Ri Yamanaka deliver a message sent by Kazumi Matsui, the Mayor of The City of Hiroshima on the occasion of the Peace Cranes pre-exhibition events WATCH HERE

6 August 2020 7.30pm BST | The Priest’s Tale | 60 min – a new play written and performed live by Michael Mears featuring Chihiro Ono (violin) WATCH HERE

9 August 2020 7.30pm BST | The Doctor’s Tale | 90 min – a new play written by Michael Mears and performed live by Leo Ashizawa with support from Michael Mears and Chihiro Ono (violin) WATCH HERE

22 August 2020 4pm BST | The Mistake | 16 min – a short film version of Michael Mears’ play in the making directed and edited by Jatinder Verma. Featuring Michael Mears and You-Ri Yamanaka WATCH HERE

22 August 2020 4pm BST | The Mistake | 77 min – post-screening Q&A with Michael Mears, You-Ri Yamanaka, Iliyana Nedkova and Helen Trew WATCH HERE


featuring Peace Cranes curators as part of the 40th anniversary of Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre and its relaunch as Peace & Justice (Scotland)

19 November 2020 6pm GMT | 120 min | Peacebuilding and the Arts? Could Peace Cranes contemporary art exhibition help us tackle the nuclear and climate emergency? WATCH HERE OR JUMP TO SEGMENTS BELOW

Jolyon Mitchell 25 min | Peacebuilding and the Arts WATCH HERE

Kate Ive 13 min | Opposing War Memorial WATCH HERE

Fiona Oliver-Larkin 8 min | Peacebuilding for young people through drama and storytelling WATCH HERE

Iliyana Nedkova 17 min | Peace Cranes exhibition including new site-specific installation research by artist Juliana Capes WATCH HERE

Alison Johnstone MSP 3 min | Peace & Justice (Scotland) Relaunch WATCH HERE

Peace Cranes. Works in progress by artist and printmaker Dawn Cole

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