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Friday, December 3, 2021

My Day at COP26: ‘I’m painting murals so people don’t forget COP happened here’


Daniel Rupaszov, 25, from Hungary, belongs to a group of artists and activists who visit COP every year to create art which highlights the climate crisis. In the latest in a series of first-person accounts from the Glasgow summit, Daniel talks about the murals he is painting around the city.

Our collective, the Artivist Network, has been coming to COP for years now – wherever it is held. We’ll set up a space, provide free materials and help activists make banners, carnival puppets and other artwork ready for demonstrations. Our catchphrase is “Create, Connect, Disrupt”.

Every year, we also find a location to paint a mural during COP in order to leave something permanent and thought-provoking behind after the negotiations, so that people don’t forget that this happened in their city.

Our first iconic project was agreed upon at COP nearly six years ago, when the Paris Accords were signed. We painted a 45m (148ft) mural on a university building in Madrid two years ago, which was very exciting because the students there were very radical. We had previously painted a mural in Bonn the year before, as well as one in Katowice the year before that.

I’ve been in Glasgow for about two weeks now, looking for a place to paint a mural. We received a number of offers, so I’m going to paint three murals over the next few days with the help of Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Today I’m painting on Hayburn Street in Partick, less than two miles from the COP negotiations, in a location I chose because it’s next to a zero-waste shop.

My Day at COP26:

This location is really in harmony with the theme I am painting about – recycling. Recycling is something that makes people in Western societies feel more comfortable about their consumption. But loads of our plastic waste ends up being dumped in landfills in Asia – leaving them to deal with the problem.

This mural is a mixed-media piece and I’m creating it using acrylic wall paint, spray paint and a large poster. It’s about 5 metres square (54 sq ft) – not monumental, but still eye-catching.

I don’t like to rush when I’m doing these paintings. People want to come and chat and if they get to meet the artists and talk to them, and understand why this painting is being made and what the concept is, they’ll feel the mural belongs to them much more. That is really important to me.

In Hungary, where I live, I don’t believe the government is taking the climate crisis seriously at all – they’re heading in the wrong direction. Scotland’s goals for 2050 are very progressive, and they appear to be a country on the right track – but you can never do enough.

My mother is Scottish, and I was born in Glasgow. I grew up on the outskirts of Budapest in a Scottish family. Because half of my family lives in Scotland, I visited frequently as a child and continue to do so.

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