Disarm The Gallery Campaign Hits London’s National Gallery

A protest against The National Gallery’s acceptance of donations from the arms company Finmeccanica has sparked a day of action on the International Day of Peace, Friday 21 September. Giant bubbles will fill Trafalgar Square with the message “Bubbles Not Bombs”. The family friendly event will call on the National Gallery to end its support for the arms trade.

Since 2006, the Gallery has accepted sponsorship from arms giant Finmeccanica. In exchange for only £30,000 a year, it has allowed arms dealers to entertain clients and talk business in its impressive rooms. The relationship came to light when in September 2011, the gallery held a reception for guests and delegates to Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world’s largest arms fairs. The reception was met by vigorous protests, including a “die-in” at the Gallery entrance.

On 31 March, Campaign Against Arms Trade and others launched a campaign to Disarm the Gallery. The bubble action is the latest in a series of non-violent, creative interventions inside and outside the gallery, to urge it to end its support for the arms trade. One of these, in which a subverted piece of art was hung in the gallery, was aired last week in the BBC spoof series “The Revolution will be Televised”.
CAAT Campaigner Sarah Waldron says: “Bubbles are things of beauty – real works of art, which cause no harm and leave no trace. In contrast, the Gallery is supporting an industry that leaves devastation in its wake. We want to show the Gallery that there’s no room for the deadly arms trade in our public institutions.”

Paola Dyboski-Bryant from Dr Zigs says: “Bringing the bubbles to the heart of London is about playing our part for International Peace Day – sharing the beauty of our giant bubbles as a celebration, on a day which will see the largest ever gathering of individuals across the world in the name of peace. Bubbles are the complete anti-thesis to weapons and war. We hope you and your kids can come and join us in our beautiful action for peace – and don’t forget to bring your own bubbles along too!”

For further information or an interview please contact CAAT’s Campaign Co-ordinator, Sarah Waldron on 020 7281 0297 or mobile 07990 673 232 or emailcampaign@caat.org.uk. Photographers and journalists are welcome at the protest.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. The arms business has a devastating impact on human rights and society and damages economic development. Large-scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems. Around 75% of CAAT’s income is raised from individual supporters. http://www.caat.org.uk/

Dr Zigs and their Giant Bubbles team will be Bubbling in Trafalgar Square to create a family friendly celebration of the International Day of Peace. They have chosen Trafalgar Square as a venue in their support of CAAT’s “Disarm The Gallery” Campaign. Previous ‘Bubbles Not Bombs’ action had seen the team Bubbling in London against the Arms Fair in 2011.  The work of Dr Zigs can be seen on their website at www.doctorzigs.com

Finmeccanica has sold attack helicopters to Turkey for use against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), military helicopters to Algeria for “battlefield and internal security requirements”, a border control and security system to Libya, drones to Pakistan, armoured vehicles to Oman and much more. See CAAT’s profile of the company: http://www.caat.org.uk/campaigns/disarm-the-gallery/finmeccanica/

The Disarm the Gallery campaign launched on 31 March 2012. Since then, thousands of people have contacted the gallery’s director, urging him not to renew the sponsorship, an open letter from artists has been published, and a series of creative interventions has taken place. Read more about the campaign: http://www.caat.org.uk/campaigns/disarm-the-gallery/

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