IT was billed as a ‘love letter to Europe’ inspired by one of Scotland’s most iconic literary figures.
But for one couple, a unique art installation celebrating our links with the continent provided a fairytale start to the new year as they celebrated their engagement in style.
Sam Page, 26, contacted Edinburgh’s Hogmanay organisers Underbelly last year to ask if they could help as with his proposal to girlfriend Eloise Cox on New Year’s Day during their first visit to the capital.
‘Message from the Skies’ saw Scotland’s shared cultural, historic and social connections with Europe marked by projecting specially commissioned letters from acclaimed Scottish writers projected onto a number of buildings across the city.
The installation – which takes its name from a line in the Robert Burns poem “Sketch New Year’s Day. To Mrs Dunlop” – featured written works from author Louise Welsh, journalist Chitra Ramaswamy and historian William Dalrymple, among others.
And producers were also able to create a special message to be projected onto the National Monument on Calton Hill when the couple paid a visit just before dusk on January 1.
Sam got down on one knee just as the words “Eloise, will you marry me?” appeared on top of the 19th century structure, as dozens of other revellers watched on.
Thankfully, Eloise, 27, said yes and the couple celebrated with a glass of champagne as the first projection – a work by Bulgarian-born writer Kapka Kassabova – was displayed on the iconic neo-Grecian monument.
Custom House in Leith featured Guardian-columnist Ramaswamy’s piece on her identity as a second-generation immigrant in the UK and in Europe, accompanied by live-action archive footage, while Dalrymple’s archeological history of the links between Scotland and the continent received an animated version displayed on the side of Tron Kirk.
Playwright Stef Smith’s work was illustrated with watercolours at the Bongo Club in the Cowgate and poet Billy Letford’s letter got its own typographic design at Leith Library.
Glasgow-based author Welsh saw her letter brought to life at the tech cube in Summerhall.
Ed Bartlam, director of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, said: “Over two hundred years ago, Burns penned the poem to Mrs Dunlop that inspired this project and wrote that “something in us never dies, on our frail uncertain state, hang matters of eternal weight”.
“So it’s wonderful at the start of 2019 to invite these amazing artists to Hogmanay and ask them to collaborate with other artists and respond to this “matter” and explore our ties to Europe by writing, animating and composing a love letter.
He added: “These letters celebrate our deep, eternal and passionate connections with Europe and it’s exciting to be able to share them with Scotland and the world as they come to celebrate Hogmanay in our capital city.”