This year Underbelly for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Book Festival are realising the vision of six writers across six sites – Leith Library, Bongo Club in the Cowgate, The National Monument of Scotland on Calton Hill, Tech Cube at Summerhall, Leith Custom House on the Shore and Tron Kirk in Hunter Square.
Working with Suzy Glass, each writer is collaborating with visual artists, projection artists and composers – a total of 16 creatives – to bring their letters to life and writ them large on the walls of Edinburgh.
Each writer has written a love letter to Europe marking Scotland’s shared historic, social and cultural connections with this family of nations in a creative response to the context of our times.
The 6 buildings and artistic collaborations are:
Kapka Kassabova – Bright Side Studios – Pippa Murphy – The Scottish Monument, Calton Hill
Bulgarian born, Highland based writer of narrative non-fiction Kapka writes about the origins of Europa, touching on deep time, mythology and legend. She explores how Europe is more permanent and enduring than detailed political ideas that dominate our everyday world.
Founded by Susanna Murphy and Cristina Spiteri, Bright Side Studios is creating images from Kapka’s writing which come into focus before dissolving into nothing. Pippa Murphy brings together a soundtrack which fuses her music with found audio inspired by ancient Greek, Mesopotamian and Gaelic female chanting.
Chitra Ramaswamy – Emma Pollock – Daniel Warren – Custom House, Leith
Guardian columnist and author, Chitra writes a comment piece about her childhood in London, holidaying in Spain, moving to Edinburgh as an adult, discussing her identity as a second-generation immigrant in the UK and in Europe.
Daniel Warren will work with archive and live action footage to tell Chitra’s story; the film will have an accompanying track composed and performed by Emma Pollock.
Louise Welsh – Emlyn Firth – Tech Cube, Summerhall
Glasgow-based author of short stories and psychological thrillers, Louise has developed a poetic statement about our shared origins and culture, accompanied by a series of words translated between Scots and European mainland languages which demonstrate that though our dialects are different we can still be understood.
Emlyn Firth will use a typographic approach to illustrate Louise’s work, playing with themes of language and communication.
Stef Smith – MJ McCarthy – Eleanor Meredith – Bongo Club, Cowgate
Stef is one of Scotland’s most exciting young playwrighting talents, here she writes a poetic letter that charts the decline of a relationship, an emotion-laden narrative where celebration and excess collide.
MJ McCarthy’s sweeping ambient score and Eleanor Meredith’s saturated watercolours come together to bring Stef’s letter to life.
William Dalrymple – RJ McConnell – Double Take Projections – Tron Kirk
One of the world’s leading historical writers, William considers the Scots’ historical relationship with mainland Europe, highlighting significant archeological discoveries both at home and further afield to demonstrate the deep and long bonds that connect us.
Composer RJ McConnell is creating a jigsaw of musical voices reflecting the different places and eras Dalrymple covers in his writing, while Double Take Projections is bringing William’s story to life through animation.
William Letford – James Houston – Leith Library
Scottish poet Billy writes a lyrical letter full of nostalgia and humour to a past love with whom he explored Italy as a younger man.
Billy’s piece will be brought to life by James Houston, who is developing a typographical approach that responds to the rhythm and pace of Billy’s writing.