Message from the Skies projects letters of love for Europe

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Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is taking the chill out of winter as we leave 2018 and start the New Year, with a special collective of 16 creatives joining forces to celebrate Scotland’s links to Europe in Message from the Skies.

The unique multi-artform project, developed in partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, will see six writers either from or based in Scotland working with ten of Scotland’s best artists, designers and musicians to create a series of six love letters to the continent.

Each message will be projected onto one of Edinburgh’s iconic buildings from 1 to 25 January 2019 for the capital’s citizens and visitors to enjoy, from dusk (5pm) to 10pm.

Chitra Ramaswamy

At Custom House in Leith, author, Guardian columnist and Edinburgh resident Chitra Ramaswamy will explore her experience as a second generation immigrant, her childhood in London, memories of holidays in Spain and moving to Edinburgh as an adult.

Ramaswamy’s piece will be accompanied by a soundtrack composed and performed by Emma Pollock (co-founder of The Delgadoes and record label Chemikal Underground), and visuals by filmmaker Daniel Warren, using archive and live action footage.

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Kapka Kassabova

The myths and legends of Europa are the subject of Kapka Kassabova’s letter, which will be seen at the National Monument of Scotland on Calton Hill. Now based in the Highlands, the Bulgarian travel writer will consider the permanence of Europe as an idea, beyond short term political squabbles.

Creative storytellers Bright Side Studios and award winning Scottish composer Pippa Murphy will provide the sights and sounds, mixing visual representations of Kassabova’s story with found audio and Murphy’s own music.

Louise Welsh

Renowned author, radio presenter and academic Louise Welsh considers shared origins and cultures across Europe at Tech Cube, Summerhall, alongside words translated between Scots and the languages of mainland Europe.

These projected demonstrations of mutual understanding will be created by Emlyn Firth, founder and director of A Visual Agency, who like Welsh is based in Glasgow.

Stef Smith

Exciting young Scottish playwright Stef Smith creates a poetic letter of celebration, excess and loss in the form of a declining relationship. Smith’s deeply emotional piece will be displayed at the Bongo Club in Edinburgh’s Cowgate.

The brightly coloured paintings of multidisciplinary artist Eleanor Meredith bring life to Smith’s words, while Irish composer musician and sound designer MJ McCarthy sets the mood with a sweeping ambient score.

William Dalrymple

Archaeological discoveries in Scotland and across Europe are the basis for leading historical writer William Dalrymple’s look at the historic relationship between Scots and the continent. In keeping with the historical tone, Dalrymple’s letter will be projected onto the Tron Kirk at the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town on the Royal Mile.

The places and times featured in Dalrymple’s message will be brought to life by a collage of musical voices by Fife-based film and theatre composer RJ McConnell, and accompanied by captivating animations from Double Take Projections.

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William Letford

Back in Leith, the sixth letter in Message from the Skies comes from Scottish poet William Letford, in the form of a letter to a past love. Letford’s humerous and nostalgic missive looks back to the couple’s trip around Italy in their younger days.

To bring the piece to life, Glasgow-based motion designer James Houston has developed a way to typographically respond to and represent the rhythm and pace Letford’s words on the walls of Leith Library.

Ed Bartlam & Charlie Wood, directors of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, said:

…it’s wonderful at the start of 2019 to invite these amazing artists to Hogmanay and ask them to collaborate with other artists… and explore our ties to Europe by writing, animating and composing a love letter. These letters celebrate our deep, eternal and passionate connections with Europe and it’s exciting to be able to share them with Scotland and the world as they come to celebrate Hogmanay in our capital city.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, added:

We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Edinburgh's Hogmanay to select these six authors, all of whom will bring something different to this excellent project. Following on from the success of the project last year, Message from the Skies once again brings the city to life in the dark days of January.

Message from the Skies takes place from 1-25 January 2019 in locations across Edinburgh, and is free to attend. The project is the culmination of Hogmanay’s 3 days of New Year celebration, much of which also celebrates Scotland’s European ties.

Find out more about Message from the Skies at 

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