Edinburgh's poets to feature work on city's billboards for Leith Late

WORK by a string of modern-day Edinburgh poets will appear on billboard advertising on the streets of the city under the latest bid to raise the profile of its 'world city of literature' status.

Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 6:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 7:52 pm
Edinburgh's Makar, Christine De Luca, is among those taking part in the project. Picture: Greg Macvean
Edinburgh's Makar, Christine De Luca, is among those taking part in the project. Picture: Greg Macvean

The capital’s current Makar, Christine de Luca, and two of her predecessors, Stewart Conn and Valerie Gillies, will be among those featured in the new phase of a city-wide campaign.

It is being launched to coincide with the annual Leith Late festival months after Monty Python legend Terry Gilliam agreed to kick-start the city’s new “Words on the Street” initiative.

It is aimed at celebrating more than 500 years of literary history in the city and transforming public spaces by taking the work of authors and poets onto the streets.

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Other recent projects have seen the UK’s biggest printed poem erected on a building site on the Royal Mile near the Scottish Poetry and the work of Sir Walter Scott celebrated around Waverley Station.

The latest venture, which will deploy six different sites in and around Leith, will also feature three leading artists from the city’s spoken word scene, Rachel McCrum, who became BBC Scotland’s first poet in residence last year, Michael Pedersen, co-founder of spoken word-cabaret nights Neu! Reekie! and Orkney-born Harry Giles.

Sites have been donated for the latest venture by the firm City Centre Posters, with each billboard featuring specially-designed backdrops created by artist and illustrator David Lemm.

It is hoped the Public Poetry Project, which the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust has developed in collaboration with Leith Late, will also raise the profile of the Leith Late festival, which will be celebrating its fifth anniversary.

Artists will be staging special events and creating one-off installations for the Hibernian Supporters Club, a Chinese supermarket, a former police box, a charity shop, a back garden and on the pavement of Leith Walk.

More than 50 different artists will be taking place in the festival’s annual late night event, which will be staged across 20 different venues.

Other elements of the programme, which runs from 23-26 June, include a debate tacking the pros and cons of the gentrification of Leith, a tour of the various historic and contemporary murals of the area, and the production of 6000 copies of a special “Leith Late banknote.”

Morvern Cunningham, producer of Leith Late, said: “We’ve worked with City Centre Posters for quite a while now on different project, including a mural of Eduardo Paolozzi, which they help with. The project is worth thousands, but isn’t costing thousands as they’re donating these sites.

“The idea is to put something into artistic into what is essentially an advertising site. It’s not trying to shout at anyone or asking them to buy something. It’s not asking for any kind of investment from the onlooker other than simply taking it in.”

Esther Rutter, project manager at the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust, said: “Leith Late is a fantastic community-run arts festival with ambition, and we’re so pleased to see poetry being part of their mix this year with the Public Poetry Project. This will form part of our wider Words on the Street campaign throughout 2016 and 2017, with more books, words and ideas set to be splashed across Edinburgh.”