Message from the Skies: Scotland's love letters to Europe
- Lynsey May
- 10 December 2018
Six acclaimed Scotland-based writers are collaborating with artists, designers and musicians to create cross-platform art as part of Edinburgh's 2019 Hogmanay celebrations
As the country prepares for the possibility of leaving the European Union, six Scotland-based writers partnered with 10 artists, designers and musicians to create ambitious, cross-platform art. The resulting love letters to Europe will be projected onto iconic buildings in Scotland's capital as part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay 19 in an ephemeral yet powerful celebration of cultural connections.
Edinburgh, UNESCO's first City of Literature, is a fitting canvas for the return of Messages from the Skies, which was introduced last year with a commission from beloved crime writer Val McDermid. This year, Underbelly for Edinburgh's Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, is co-ordinating the writers and artists to reveal their vision across six different locations throughout the city.
Journalist and author Chitra Ramaswary, who created a piece for Custom House Leith with Emma Pollock and Daniel Warren, said: 'The collaborative part of this project has been amazing... It's been thrilling working with both a filmmaker (Daniel) and musician/songwriter (Emma) and seeing how they interpret my words.'
Daniel also enjoyed the process, finding that: 'Chitra's vivid personal recollections are steeped in sensations and associations that she knows will be recognisable to others – she conjures something shared… Through the ambiguity of close-up details, I was also able to touch on the shifting ground of Chitra's nostalgic reverie and her present reflections on the human condition.'
Poet, novelist and narrative non-fiction writer Kapka Kassabova, whose piece will be on The Scottish Monument, took her inspiration from the way places unfold in "deep time". She said: 'Migration and the unity of the natural world make Europe a beehive of inter-connectedness, and I wanted to capture the polyphonic excitement and beauty of that, as well as the pain of division we are collectively experiencing at the moment.'
Pippa Murphy, the composer and designer working with Kapka, said: 'I was keen to blend Eastern-style polyphonic singing with the Gaelic world of sound to create a hypnotic and ritualistic feel. I wanted to capture images of hope and love, moon and stars, flux and flow, duality and division - it will be an epic and cinematic experience for all!'
Composing a message to the whole of Europe could be a daunting task and we asked poet Billy Letford, whose work will be displayed at Leith Library, how he pictured his reader. He said: 'You know, the strange thing is, with a whole continent of people to choose from – I ended up writing to myself.'
Work from novelist Louise Welsh will also be on show at Summerhall, while playwright Stef Smith's words will be on display at the Bongo Club and you'll be able to find historical writer William Dalrymple's message at Tron Kirk. You can also read the all of the letters digitally – including audio versions for visually impaired listeners and foreign language versions in Chinese, Spanish, German and French – with a free app, developed by Odd Panda.
All Message from the Skies pieces are free to attend and you can see them between dusk and 10pm every night from 1–25 Jan.