Message from the Skies returns for a free journey of discovery through the streets of Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. 

Message from the Skies 2020 – Shorelines, presents a collection of written pieces to Scotland reflecting on our relationship with our seas, waters and coasts and our maritime heritage at the start of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

Message from the Skies 2020 marks the third edition of the innovative cross artform collaboration, delivered by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay producer Underbelly on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council in partnership with The Edinburgh International Book Festival.    

Welcoming the beginning of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, the words of five celebrated writers: Charlotte Runcie, Irvine Welsh, Kathleen Jamie, Kayus Bankole and Robin Robertson – will illuminate and animate landmarks around the city, from Fountainbridge to Leith with a maritime theme this January. These are told through a series of dazzling projections created by artists, designers and filmmakers including; Bright Side Studios, Double Take Projections, Kate Charter, Norman Harman, Rianne White, and Thomas Moulson and feature original music by Alasdair Roberts, Kayus Bankole, Pippa Murphy, and Steve Mac.

For Shorelines, each acclaimed author has penned words to Scotland, exploring how we regard ourselves as a coastal nation while considering how the world sees us across the seas, each told with a very different voice, often reflecting troubled waters past and present. Each is a living piece, animated and brought to life through a set of new collaborations with composers, visual artists and artists who have worked to realise each writer’s words in live animation to be projected across the city, creating a new trail of enlightenment which is free for all to discover in the dark winter nights.   

A Message from the Skies App has been specifically designed to enhance the experience; for non-English speakers it translates the pieces into four different languages: Chinese, French, German and Spanish, as well as giving greater access for all with text and audio versions of the letters and maps for guidance built into the app as well as some audio commentary from the writers themselves.   

Message from the Skies, a free event, is commissioned and presented by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and produced by Underbelly in association with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, and funded by Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals EXPO Fund.

Ed Bartlam & Charlie Wood, Directors of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, said: “There doesn’t seem to be a more important time in recent memory for Scotland to consider our place as a coastal nation and how others view us across the water and, at the start of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, Shorelines seems especially relevant. Our amazing writers, in partnership with their visual artist and musical collaborators, have looked both inward and outward and explored our deep relationships with the waters that surround us, the stories of old that have travelled across the seas, and the murkier parts of our shoreline history. Shorelines is the third edition of Message from the Skies and we’re delighted to share it with Scotland and the world as they come to celebrate Hogmanay in our capital city.”

Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development Ben Macpherson said: “As we enter the Year of Coasts and Waters, it is great to see Edinburgh’s maritime heritage as the focus for the latest Message from the Skies.  

“For next year’s celebrations, the words of five celebrated writers will illuminate and animate landmarks around the city as part of the Shorelines collection of letters to Scotland, reflecting on our relationship with our seas, coasts and waters. 

“I encourage everyone to go to one of the Scottish Government’s EXPO funded events – they are free to attend and an excellent way to engage with the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.”