Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2022: Mural pays tribute to traditional New Year celebrations at the Tron
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Revellers heading to Princes Street to welcome in 2023 will have a reminder of Edinburgh's Hogmanays past as they make their way to this year's street party.
It's a long time now since the Tron Kirk in the Royal Mile was the focus of the Capital's New Year celebrations. But a giant mural depicting Hogmanay crowds gathered outside the former church to bring in the New Year now features on the temporary hoardings on nearby North Bridge, currently half-closed to traffic while essential repairs to the structure are carried out.
Artist Chris Rutterford originally painted the mural in 2013, based inside the Tron Kirk, which was being used as a bar during that year's Festival, and inviting people to be painted into the Hogmanay crowd. He said: “I turned up in my red top hat and kilt with 14 blank boards and created it from scratch during that month. The traditional Edinburgh Hogmanay was originally an informal street party, spilling throughout the streets of the Old Town with its climax focused on the Tron Kirk.
"When I was young Hogmanay was such a massive event but it was very much Edinburgh and I used to bring my English friends up here to sample a true Scottish Hogmanay. It feels it has morphed somewhat and it's not really what it was. It felt like the soul of it was in the Tron. My memory of it was every street was a rammy as far as you could see. It was like your best concert and everyone was guaranteed a snog from someone. It was just fabulous - and in many ways I miss it, so in 2013 I wanted to paint an homage to those traditional Edinburgh Hogmanays. I used the spirit of the Festival to ask people to be part of my Hogmanay mural."
But the 15-metre painting has been in storage for years before being brought out to brighten up North Bridge and help boost the businesses hit by the roadworks. Mr Rutterford –who also masterminded the massive mural which has transformed Edinburgh’s Colinton tunnel – has added a spectacular new unicorn at one end of the Hogmanay mural and a herd of unicorns at the other. "The Unicorn is the national animal of Scotland, first recorded in the 12th century but likely much older. In Celtic mythology the unicorn was a symbol of purity and innocence representing many of the qualities Scots still pride themselves on today - passion, determination, imagination and truth."
The mural is proving popular with the public and has even become a backdrop for wedding photos. Mr Rutterford said: "Liam and Katie Graham. were getting married in the Scotsman Hotel but because of the roadworks their guests were delayed - their wedding photographer Carly Buick saw all the unicorns and decided it would make a fabulous photo." And with the work on North Bridge now expected to last until 2025, the mural may be in place for a while yet.
Mr Rutterford said he was disappointed the mural had spent so much time in storage. "There are thousands of real people depicted in it and I felt I owed them more. It’s nice that they are now hanging exactly where they should be, right next to where this all happened, 50 metres from the Tron Kirk, the home of Hogmanay and where this was painted in the first place."