COP26: Giant ‘eye in the sky’ artwork highlights world scrutiny on Glasgow climate talks

A giant artwork has been hoisted into the sky over the Scottish capital to send a message to the world ahead of the international climate talks being held in Glasgow.

The result of an international collaboration, We Are Watching features a monumental eye made up of thousands of individual portraits contributed from people in 190 countries across the globe.

The flag, the size of a 10-storey building, is being flown in the grounds of the Dynamic Earth museum, next to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

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The aerial installation, by Swiss ‘artivist’ Dan Acher, has arrived in Edinburgh as part of a global tour that will see it hung in Glasgow during the United Nations COP26 climate summit, which runs from October 31 to November 12.

The massive We Are Watching artwork has been hoisted near the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh as part of a tour that will see it flying in Glasgow during the United Nations climate summit COP26

The piece symbolises the eyes of the world ‘watching’ as global leaders and delegates negotiate actions to help save the planet from environmental breakdown.

It has already been displayed in Geneva, Madrid and London as part of the tour, with the UK leg kicking off this year in Greenwich - close to the line of zero degrees longitude.

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Mr Acher said: “We’re excited that We Are Watching is landing in Scotland’s capital city and drawing the eyes of the world to Scotland ahead of Glasgow’s crucial COP26 next month.

“It’s crucial that we reinforce our sense of shared humanity.

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Swiss 'artivist' Dan Acher was in Edinburgh to unveil the climate installation, which is made up of thousands of individual portraits of people from 190 countries across the globe

“Accessible, universal art can bridge cultural and political divides.”

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Dr Hermione Cockburn, scientific director at Dynamic Earth, said: “As Scotland gets ready to host COP26 our impact on the planet is more apparent than ever and the need to take collective action is clear.

“I am extremely proud that Dynamic Earth is hosting We Are Watching on its journey to Glasgow, to remind global leaders that the eyes of the world are on them at this critical moment in our relationship with the earth.”

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Dynamic Earth, the only science centre in the UK that is solely dedicated to the story of the planet, is running a programme of public events in the run up to COP26.

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We Are Watching was designed to first fly at the COP25 talks, held in the Spanish capital Madrid.

Its mosaic was created through a dedicated website, which allowed people the world over to upload their portraits together with short messages to leaders working on environmental solutions.

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A closer inspection of the contributors’ messages and faces can be seen on the project’s website, where the digital eye keeps growing and evolving as more images are added.

Smaller versions of the flag and its ‘eye in the palm’ symbol, first used at COP25, are currently being shared across various Asian countries in the run up to COP26.

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Around 30,000 leaders and delegates are expected to come to Glasgow for the talks, which are considered the most important since the Paris Agreement was laid out at COP21 in 2015.

Hosted by the UK, the conference is aiming to see signatories commit to measures that will limit global temperature rise to 1.5C and stop runaway climate change.

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A number of high-profile figures are expected to attend the talks, including the Queen, US president Joe BIden, veteran broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.

It has been confirmed that a planned appearance by the Pope will not go ahead.

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