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Celebrating the iconic Knotted Gun sculpture at the United Nations in NYC, 30 years later

Knotted Gun. Photographed by: Pontus Höök.

It’s been 30 years since the internationally famous Knotted Gun non-violence sculpture made by the Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd was unveiled in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, and the occasion was recently marked with a special ceremony on The World Day of Non-Violence.

Reuterswärd’s classic “Non-Violence” sculpture was created 30 years ago to honor his friend John Lennon, of The Beatles, who was tragically gunned down outside his New York City home. Through the years, the Knotted Gun sculpture has become a global symbol of peace and conflict resolution. Today, you can find the sculpture in over 30 different locations worldwide.

“He was a wonderful person and an extremely talented artist. He was passionate about bringing peace, justice and non-violence into his art to create a message, which he really did,” Jan Hellman, close friend to Reuterswärd and founder of The Non-Violence Project Foundation, told Metro.

The Swedish artist left behind a legacy that has inspired millions of people all over the world. The charity foundation, The Non-Violence Project, was created with the goal of educating children and young people in peace and conflict resolutions. The foundation now exists in 30 different countries and has educated over 8 million children.

“The knotted gun and its message has meant a lot to us and has had a huge impact on our foundation and on people all over the world.” Hellman said. “It’s a symbol that is easy for people to understand and it makes people think. Actually, it’s one of the most photographed sculptures in New York.”

knotted gun

This week the “World Day of Non-violence” was celebrated at the UN Headquarters in Midtown for the 11th year in a row on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. It was a day aimed at creating public awareness and education by sending out the message of non-violence, tolerance and peace.

“Gandhi proved that non-violence can change history. Let us be inspired by his courage and conviction as we continue our work to advance peace, sustainable development and human rights for all of the peoples of the world,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

This year’s ceremony was dedicated to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the Knotted Gun and to honor Reuterswärds. During the ceremony, a personal letter to Reuterswärd written by Julian Lennon, John Lennon’s son, was read out loud as a greeting from the Lennon family.

Unfortunately the Swedish artist wasn’t able to experience the anniversary since he passed away at the age of 81 two years ago, but Hellman still felt that he was with him that day.

“Reuterswärds’ spirit has always rested over the sculpture and our foundation.  The ceremony was really beautiful and honoring. UN has through the years showed us a lot of support,” Hellman said. “Next year we’re hoping to get our own Non-Violence Day together with the UN in New York.”

Get your own mini Knotted Gun sculpture

In recognition of the work’s 30th anniversary, the foundation, in collaboration with Hansen Fine Art—an art dealership and consulting firm based in Stockholm, Sweden—is selling a new foot-long version of the sculpture in an edition of 75. The sculptures can be ordered by visiting theknottedgun.com. All proceeds will go to The Non-Violence Project Foundation.

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