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Nuclear Weapons: The Consequences and The Vow

Janet Fenton, co vice chair of Scottish CND, describes and gives background for the Consequences exhibition and “The Vow” film screening, held last month in Edinburgh. 


The closing exhibition of the two-year long Peace and Justice Scotland’s Peace Cranes project explores the Consequences of that first significant moment when the United States Government attacked a civilian population with an instrument of unspeakable horror – and the unpredictable effect on people and the planet. 

These include the harms from testing, the cold war, nuclear power development and more, up to and including the current unspeakable situation in Ukraine as its ramifications roll across the world.

From the outset, people have attempted to understand, document and witness to the catastrophic and ongoing harm of nuclear weapons through the use of the arts. These range from the elegant yet simple construction of origami paper peace cranes to articulate hope and resilience, to the harrowing paintings documenting the first few awful days after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

The Consequences of Hiroshima include, of course, the story of the efforts to prohibit and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons and the long and heartfelt effort that the hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) have waged. Peace & Justice (Scotland) along with Scottish CND (both partner organisations in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) have worked for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has outlawed the presence or consideration of nuclear weapons completely in more than sixty states, with more in the pipeline. 

It was against this backdrop that SCND Chair Lynn Jamieson introduced the Scottish premiere of The Vow, a Bullfrog film that tells the story of Setsuko Thurlow from her survival at Hiroshima to accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in relation to the TPNW, told through the eyes of a second generation survivor Michie Takeuchi. The film, directed by Susan Strickler, was screened on the last day of the Consequences exhibition. The receptive and visibly moved audience then participated in a short Q and A moderated by Lynn. 

The event was introduced with the inspiring optimism and music  of Protest In Harmony, in songs celebrating what Setsuko calls ‘our beloved treaty’. It closed with our hopes for Scotland, expressed through Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come all Ye, originally composed for the 1960’s marches against nuclear weapons coming to Scotland. 

Art and activism give an essential outlet to our human capacity to envision, and eventually realise, a better, safer and more sustainable world.

Janet Fenton, Co Vice Chair Scottish CND

Exhibition catalogue available here: