‘Message from the Skies – Shorelines’

Five sites across the city of Edinburgh were illuminated by the words of five celebrated writers, reflecting on Scotland’s close connection with the sea, both today and in the past. The words were accompanied by an original score and visuals created by local artists and musicians. Double Take Projections delivered projections at three of these sites – working with the contributions from Irvine Welsh, Kayus Bankole and Charlotte Runcie.


Immersive Projection Mapping

Client – Underbelly
Location – Edinburgh: City Chambers, High Street; Malmaison Hotel, Leith; Northern Lighthouse Board, George Street.
Date – January 2020
Artists – Kate Charter, Norman Harman, Rianne White
Sound Design – Pippa Murphy, Kayus Bankole, Steve Mac
Project Partners – Underbelly, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 19, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh City of Literature, Creative Scotland, Catalyst, Bright Side Studios
Producer – Amanda Rogers, David Graham

Coast and Waters

A filmmaker and composer were assigned to work in collaboration with each of the writers to bring their words to life in a projection at each site. Irvine Welsh worked with visual designer Norman Harman and composer Steve Mac to remember the tales of merchant sailors from the former seaman’s mission in Leith. Lightkeepers – Charlotte Runcie combined forces with animator Kate Charter and composer Pippa Murphy to welcome lost travellers from the Northern Lighthouse Board. ‘Sugar for your Tea’ – writer and composer Kayus Bankole, from the Scottish band ‘Young Fathers’, collaborated with filmmaker Rianne White, creating a poignant reflection on the legacy of the slave trade from the City Chambers on the High Street.

UNESCO City of Literature

The close collaboration between written, audio and visual elements was key in celebrating Edinburgh’s status as the first UNESCO City of Literature. The words were incorporated into the visual design and as a voiceover in the soundtrack. All three elements worked together to impart a more impactful message than any part could alone.

In “Sugar for your Tea”, Bankole voices the names of his forgotten ancestors clearly into the night, over the top of ethereal, captivating music. As he speaks, White physically places the names on one of the most powerful buildings of Scotland’s capital. Behind the words, Bankole plunges his head into water; bubbles catching on his dreadlocks so the audience cannot see his face clearly.

In this project, the projections were widely spread across the City of Edinburgh, and each site had its own challenges for installation. Double Take Projections worked closely with Underbelly and Catalyst to overcome them and provide a unified experience for the audience across all the locations. Secure insulated projection boxes were used at sites that were unstaffed and exposed to the winter weather, they also provided a platform for information boards.

Text Projections

‘Shorelines’ is the third edition of Message from the Skies, all of which Double Take Projections have played a key role in both producing creative content and delivering multiple projection sites. Over the past three years, the event has become a key part of the Edinburgh Hogmanay calendar. It has become a beacon for locals and visitors alike that brings light and warmth to the long January nights.

“This is called Message from the skies and me and Fran do it every year!! It’s sooo good, doing it this Friday and absolutely buzzing”
Emma May @Emmamayreid Twitter 15/1/20

“See it, over the next three weeks; or miss a beautiful and rich reflective celebration on the history of our capital city, on its complex present, and on its many possible futures.”
Joyce McMillan – The Scotsman 2/1/20

“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. […] 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.”
Ben Macpherson – Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development
(Quoted on 20/12/19)


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