The Great Hall at Stormont is being transformed into a craft workshop today (Wednesday, September 21) as MLAs from across the political spectrum make origami cranes to celebrate World Peace Day.
The project is the brainchild of the Arts and Disability Forum (ADF) which has been working with a wide range of community groups, ethnic minority organisations and disability groups throughout Northern Ireland to produce almost 2,000 paper cranes as a symbol of peace.
Chris Ledger, Chief Executive Officer of the Arts and Disability Forum said she had been overwhelmed by the public response to the challenge. The ADF has worked with the public at its gallery in Royal Avenue and also gone out into the community to hold origami workshops.
“Our aim was to produce 1,000 cranes before World Peace Day and we have almost doubled that amount. The response from all sections of the community has been unbelievable and we thought that Stormont was the perfect place to conclude the project,” said Chris.
Today’s event was co-sponsored by Regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy and Arts Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.
Hundreds of the cranes are currently on display at the ADF Gallery. The organisation has invited those who participated in the project to join them in the gallery to see the results of their work.
The project was launched back in August by Irish artist Stacia Blake who has dedicated her life to creating artworks to commemorate all the people who died after the Hiroshima (Aug 6) and Nagasaki (Aug 9) bombs – an estimated 246,000 people. In her paintings, a circle represents each person who died and so far she has completed works with 20,000 circles.
Stacia travelled from her home in Portlaoise today to join the members of the ADF at the Stormont event.
The origami cranes are linked to an ancient Japanese legend that anyone who makes 1,000 paper birds will have their heart’s desire come true.
Japanese girl Sadako Sasasi, who was exposed to radiation at Hiroshima, heard of the legend and began a quest to create 1,000 paper cranes in the hope that she would recover. She died before she reached her goal but her classmates finished the rest after her death from Leukaemia. There is now a tradition of sending paper cranes to the explosion sites to coincide with the anniversaries of the bombings.
Because of this custom, the origami crane has become a worldwide symbol of peace. There is a granite statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park standing with her hands outstretched, a paper crane flying from her fingertips.
While the Stormont event was taking place, other ADF volunteers were at Forestside Shopping Centre helping members of the public how to make cranes as part of an event organised by the Beyond Skin anti-racism organisation.
For more information about the activities of the Arts and Disability Forum visit www.adf.ie