One of Edinburgh’s oldest buildings to host culture project inspired by climate crisis

One of Edinburgh's oldest surviving bulidings is to play host to new work created by Scottish writers and artists in response to the climate crisis.

Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 10:17 am
Trinity Apse, off the Royal Mile, is playing host to this year's Message From The Skies project, which has been created in response to the climate crisis.
Trinity Apse, off the Royal Mile, is playing host to this year's Message From The Skies project, which has been created in response to the climate crisis.

Trinity Apse, which dates back more than 500 years, will provide the backdrop to a week-long installation inspired by the staging of the COP26 summit in Scotland.

Artwork by designer Hazel Dunn will be projected onto the gothic architecture of the surviving elements of a church building that had to controversially make way for an expansion of Waverley Station in the mid-19th century.

Visitors will hear short stories created by three writers – Anna Fleming, Andrés N. Ordorica and Mara Menzies – along with a soundtrack by composer Calum Paterson.

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Glasgow-based designer Hazel Dunn has created artwork for the Message From The Skies project.

The project is the latest incarnation of Message From The Skies, a collaboration between the city’s Hogmanay and book festivals, which has commissioned work by some of Scotland’s leading writers and artists in recent years.

The facade of historic buildings and landmarks across the city have previously been lit up to showcase the Message From The Skies commissions, which have been funded by the Scottish Government.

However, the latest work, entitled Earth Calls, has been designed to be experienced inside the little-known building, which is tucked away off the High Street section of the Royal Mile, on Chalmers Close.

It will be able to be experienced free of charge between 19 and 25 January 2022, from 5-9pm.

The Trinity Apse is part of the Trinity College Kirk which was long regarded as one of Edinburgh's finest gothic masterpieces.

Underbelly directors Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam said: “There isn’t a more vital time for our Message From The Skies to focus on climate than now. Scotland has been at the forefront of the world’s climate action and our artists have been working together to share a message from Scotland that sparks imagination and inspires the world.”

Book festival director Nick Barley said: “We have once again enjoyed suggesting some wonderful Scottish writers whose words will light up the city in the dark days of January.”

Scottish culture minister Jenny Gilruth said: “It’s great to hear that Scotland’s COP26 legacy will live on through Message from the Skies 2022. For the duration of January, the artist’s messages will be projected in the heart of Scotland’s capital, reflecting on our relationship with Scotland’s land, sea and air.”

The original Trinity College Kirk was founded by Queen Mary of Guelders, the widow of King James II, following his death during the siege of Roxburgh Castle in 1460. It was located in the Waverley Valley, between the Old Town and Calton Hill, although the original concept was never completed.

This year's Message From The Skies project can be experienced at Trinity Apse in the Old Town from 19-25 January.

After the Reformation, ownership of Trinity College Kirk was passed over to the town council – a decision that would prove fateful in 1848, when the North British Railway Company purchased the site to expand Waverley Station, which required the removal of all original buildings.

The company agreed to fund its relocation, only for the work to be delayed by disputes between the council and the kirk over where it should be rebuilt. By the time a site on Jeffrey Street was chosen, many of the carefully-numbered stones from the original building had either been stolen from their unprotected home on Calton Hill or become badly damaged.

Although a new extension allowed the church to reopen in 1872, it was demolished in the 1960s, leaving only a small section of the original gothic architecture, which is now protected as an A-listed building by Historic Environment Scotland, behind.

This year's Message From The Skies project can be experienced at the historic Trinity Apse in Edinburgh's Old Town.
Trinity College Kirk, which dates back to 1460, was controversially movd from its original location near Calton Hill to make way for an expansion of Waverley Station.
Writer and perrformer Mara Menzies has created a short story for this year's Message From The Skies project.
Only a small section of the Trinity College Kirk building survived after demolition work in the 1970s.