Peace Cranes

Peace Cranes​ ​is an exhibition of contemporary public art exploring the twin existential threats of nuclear weapons and climate change through the works of Scottish and international artists presented online, and a cathedral-size, visually arresting, site-specific installation of 140,000 origami peace cranes by established Scottish artist Janis Hart presented at Edinburgh’s St John’s Church.

Scheduled to premiere on 6 August 2021 as a commemoration of the 140,000 lives lost following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, the ​Peace Cranes e​xhibition will span the heritage site of St John’s Church in Edinburgh, as well as a dedicated digital public space as part of Edinburgh’s Just Festival for peace, human rights, social, environmental and economic justice – within the framework of both the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the United Nations ​International Year of Peace and Trust​.

Peace Cranes is curated by Heather Kiernan and Iliyana Nedkova, and produced by Pete Searle.

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. Peace Cranes exhibition also represents an ongoing partnership with Edinburgh’s Just Festival.


Help us crowdfund and make peace cranes soar to the skies over Edinburgh! Join our crowdfunding campaign here

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.

As one of the partners of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Peace & Justice campaigned for the UN 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. 

With your support we can extend the exhibition and leave the fledglings nesting in the church eaves beyond the Just Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 30 November and raise the awareness of the global movements for nuclear disarmament and environmental justice in conjunction with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow.


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.

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 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 to represent 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.

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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