Edinburgh International Festival to make Edinburgh Castle rock a work of art

IT will last less than 20 minutes, but is expected to attract more than 27,000 people to watch the dramatic transformation of an iconic national landmark formed around 350 million years ago.

A visualisation of how the installation might look on Edinburgh Castle. Picture: EIF
A visualisation of how the installation might look on Edinburgh Castle. Picture: EIF

The Edinburgh International Festival today unveiled plans for the spectacular event which will turned the castle rock into a rugged canvas for spectacular projections and illuminations charting its geological history.

The Deep Time event, which will herald the launch of the 70th EIF in August, will see the western facade of the castle become a giant work of art, set to the soundtrack of music by Glasgow indie-rock band Mogwai, one of the acts performing at the Festival.

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One of Britain’s leading digital animation companies, 59 Productions, is joining forces with leading Edinburgh University academics to create a piece of work which will explore the city’s “intellectual legacy.”

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The one-off free event, which will celebrate the 3000-year-old heritage of Edinburgh Castle, will also honour James Hutton, the 18th century Edinburgh scientist who would become renowned as “the father of geology.”

The first images offering a glimpse of how the castle will be transformed were released as it emerged that the event will see Castle Terrace closed to traffic to accommodate the vast outdoor audience.

Deep Time is the festival’s follow-up to last year’s hugely-popular curtain-raiser, The Harmonium Project, which attracted almost 20,000 festival-goers onto Lothian Road to see a dramatic transformation of the Usher Hall unfold.

Organisers have decided to make this year’s event all-ticket, with briefs expected to be released in several batches, starting from 11 July.

Deep Time is the first of three high-profile EIF opening events to be partly bankrolled by financial giants Standard Life, under a new sponsorship deal with the festival unveiled today.

The EIF has already announced it has formed a three-year partnership with 59 Productions, whose track record includes the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, the V&A’s David Bowie exhibition, the stage show War Horse and using the iconic facade of Sydney Opera House.

Leo Warner, creative director of 59 Productions and director of Deep Time, said: “Deep Time gives us an opportunity to build on the success of The Harmonium Project and to create a spectacular event that is more deeply connected to the story of the city.

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“Long-term partnerships like these allow us as artists to take bold creative decisions that advance our understanding of theatricality, spectacle and new technology, so we can continue to inspire and surprise our audiences.”

Festival director Fergus Linehan said: “Standard Life is one of the world’s most forward-thinking financial organisations, whose continued engagement in the cultural life of Edinburgh and Scotland is instrumental in supporting work created here on a global stage, and makes them a natural partner for the International Festival.

“Standard Life has shown itself to be innovative and creative in its sponsorship of major events, and we look forward to working together to offer the people of Edinburgh and beyond a spectacular start to the summer festival season.”

Keith Skeoch, Standard Life’s chief executive said: “We are a global business which is very proud of our Scottish roots and the pioneering ideas which have been developed here.

“This exciting highly visual and visceral event is another great example of innovative and creative work which will be enjoyed by the live audience and millions of others through the power of social media and online.”