Message From The Skies

New Year’s Resurrection

What could be more inspiring than walking the winter streets of Edinburgh on the trail of an illustrated short story from leading Scottish writer, Val McDermid?

New Year’s Resurrection is a combination of powerful storytelling and compelling installation art – a performance with subtitles, if you like – told via projections onto buildings and landmarks Edinburgh City Centre. Following the 19th century tradition of publishing novels in serial form, ‘readers’ move, chapter by chapter, location to location to discover the whole story.

Streets and buildings that have inspired authors from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson, to Muriel Spark and J K Rowling, and to Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, herself, star in the production. It’s a mixed tribute to enlightenment, literary criminality – and the resurrection of all-but-forgotten women writers of previous generations.

The story begins at the Signet Library in Parliament Square with the story of Burke and Hare, and progresses to the National Library for a list of male writers – suddenly interrupted. At Lady Stair’s Close, 19th century novelist Susan Edmonstone Ferrier is introduced as narrator who takes us from the Mound (watch what happens to the Scott Monument), to Calton Road, York Place and the New Town, where Ferrier lived out the last years of her life. St Cuthbert’s Churchyard, the Grassmarket and Greyfriars lead us towards the grand finale.

It’s a fascinating two hour journey, full of memorable moments. For me, these include Ferrier murdering the literary critics who ignored or dismissed her work, and then being ably interrupted by Muriel Spark (this might be a writers’ thing!) and, the spectacle of the ominous ‘We’re coming to get you!’ in what looks like blood on the walls of Calton Road.

There’s the added bonus, too, of recognising the Year of Young People 2018 – the project includes short stories by three young competition winners, which are projected onto three buildings (4-5pm daily)

Whether your interest is cultural or literary, or if you simply like walking the city streets and appreciate some extra entertainment, it’s an event worth a ramble. And like any good book, you can read a few chapter and come back to it later, revisit your favourite scenes, or skim over the bits that don’t grab you.

You have another ten days to experience it: Message from the Skies runs until Burns Night (25 January), from dusk 5pm until 10pm. It is a free event, with no ticket required.

Val McDermid has collaborated with (among others) dramaturg, Philip Howard, and  projection company, Double Take. The accompanying app translates the story into seven languages and an audio description is available.

Photographs courtesy of


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