Photo credit: Church of Scotland

AN ART INSTALLATION repurposing old chairs has been unveiled at Glasgow Cathedral to launch the programme of COP26 events which will be taking place at the historic building.

‘I will learn to sit with you and I will learn to listen’ is a way for visitors to engage with issues around climate change and to reflect on how we can all try to understand other’s perspectives and experiences.

The piece, created by artists Gardner & Gardner, comprises of 122 redundant church chairs, which have been repurposed for the installation.

The Rev Peter Gardner, who is the Church’s minister to the Visual Arts Communities of Glasgow and is part of the artistic duo behind the work, alongside creative partner and wife Heidi, explained what it represents. “At first glance the installation, viewed from the doorway of the Blackadder Aisle, appears to be a jumble of chairs but on closer observation it reveals itself as a field of sculptural forms”, he said.

“Each form consists of a pair of chairs, symbolising unequal power relationships among individuals, communities and nations, highlighting our communal failure to listen to one another. During COP26, we are reweaving one pair of chairs in an alternative material.

“When completed, the chairs will be positioned facing each other, thus enabling a conversation of equals and inviting a renewed commitment to listen to the voices of others in order to bring about change that will allow social justice and climate justice to be realised.

“Our hope is that ‘I will learn to sit with you and I will learn to listen’ will encourage and enable gentle, honest dialogue around climate change.”

Glasgow Cathedral will also be hosting other art installations through the COP26 period, including a neon sign by internationally renowned artist James Pfaff, which reads ‘Returning and Into Your Arms’.

In addition, I.D Campbell’s work ‘Protest Art: a Lament in Black Paint’, will feature three portraits where the faces are partly obscured by black paint. The paintings represent lives that have been devastated by the climate crisis in countries around the world.

Other events taking place at Glasgow Cathedral will include a climate-themed Sunday service on 7 November where Lord Wallace, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland will preach the sermon, followed by an ecumenical service later in the day at 4pm.

On Monday 8 November, Christian Aid is hosting ‘The Time Is Now: Christian Aid and Friends From Glasgow Cathedral’ which will include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as one of the guests.

The French religious community, Taizé, will be leading prayers at Glasgow Cathedral at 7pm on Tuesday 8 November.

The Rev Mark Johnstone, who is the minister of Glasgow Cathedral, said: “For 1200 years people have come to the site of this Cathedral. It is the people’s Cathedral and opens the door. All are welcome in this place as we continue to communicate the relevancy of the Christian faith today.”

* ‘I will learn to sit with you and I will learn to listen’ will run from Monday 1 – Friday 26 November. Check opening times and reserve a free time slot here.

* Free tickets to The Time Is Now: Christian Aid and Friends from Glasgow Cathedral can be booked here.

* Source: Church of Scotland