Clarion the climate bear from south Shropshire reaches Glasgow for COP26

An artist has completed his 306-mile trek to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow with a 10ft reinforced paper polar bear.

Clarion the bear en route to COP26
Clarion the bear en route to COP26

Bamber Hawes, from Bishop's Castle, left Shropshire in mid October with Clarion the bear, and this afternoon finished off the last six miles into the Scottish city's centre.

Clarion is made from thin bamboo poles, willow withies and many layers of heavy duty tissue paper bonded together with waterproof glue.

"Clarion is a metaphor, he is a symbol," said Bamber. "Everyone knows the plight of polar bears."

Bamber was supported on his three week journey through the English and Scottish landscape by his artist friend 'Kusameh' and they made many friends on the route.

"We've stopped and been past primary schools on the way, and children have come out with their hi-viz jackets to see Clarion," said Bamber. "So that's been nice.

"Seeing a 10ft polar bear is such a strong image, so they should remember that in 10 years' time. I hope their teachers will be talking to them about the issues."

Clarion has taken a few knocks along the way, with rain and high winds at times, but Bamber has been able to patch him up.

"It has raised awareness, there have been lots of conversations and more and more people have been expecting us and saying they have been tracking us on the route," he said.

Bamber admitted to being worried about the reception he might receive in Glasgow's St George's Square at about 3.30pm on Monday, including from security conscious police officers, in the city which is expecting leaders from around the world to attend the crunch conference.

If Bamber were able to address world leaders about the issue of climate change he said he would tell them to be "very, very brave."

Clarion the bear on route to COP26

"However they achieve office they are all concerned with keeping power so they should make the right decisions.

"Then they have to convince their people that they need to change their lives quite radically.

"We have got to be quite radical - but I fear that they are not that brave."

Next year the COP27 conference is due to be held in Egypt, which is 3,500 miles away, and while Bamber says he could walk it, the question is whether he could take six months out to make the journey.

But it wouldn't be with Clarion as the giant bear won't be getting a lift back to Bishop's Castle on Tuesday with Bamber and Kusameh on their long drive home.

A new home has been found for Clarion at a college in Glasgow, where he will be on a permanent loan.

"I've had Clarion for two years," said Bamber. "He takes up a lot of space but he's been hanging from the ceiling in my studio where I've been asking him how he is.

"I see him as a bemused, frightened, scared bear who looks quite quizzical and certainly angry.

"I will miss him, but he is going to a nice place. And it is time to make room for another project."

To see more about Bamber and Clarion's journey visit clarionthebear.fish/.

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