The night sky above the city was transformed by the multi-coloured laser beams as the “Global Rainbow" art installation, which is also intended to pay tribute to NHS staff and other key workers involved in dealing with the impact of the pandemic, was unveiled.
Said to be visible from up more than 10 miles away, it features seven parallel beams of light sent from Edinburgh Castle to the north of the city, above the National Monument on Calton Hill and the rooftops of Abbeyhill, Easter Road, Lochend and over the Firth of Forth.Rainbows were painted and drawn by thousands of schoolchildren across the UK when their schools were first closed down last year and swiftly became a symbol of hope during the pandemic.
Created by Berlin-based artist Yvette Mattern, the static installation has been seen in more than 15 locations around the world since it was created in 2009, including New York, Sao Paolo, Toulouse and Toronto.
The Global Rainbow was originally intended to be beamed across Edinburgh as part of this year’s Burns and Beyond Festival in January, but was postponed due to new lockdown restrictions.
Organisers Unique Events revived the idea to coincide with this week’s first anniversary of the UK-wide lockdown.
It is not known how long the installation will run for, however Unique Events is urging people to view the installation “responsibly,” by following social distancing rules and avoiding travelling to see the vast work of art.
Video footage and images are available on the official Burns and Beyond website and its social media channels to ensure it can be fully viewed by people at home.
Mattern said: “I’m really honoured and proud that this is happening in Edinburgh.
“It’s a truly positive gesture of hope and happiness. I really hope people see it that way.
“It will very look different depending on where people approach it from. In a way, it functions like a natural rainbow and has the same kind of wonderment, but can only be seen at night. I think it’s almost hypnotic.
“It’s been clocked at more than 60 kilometres (37 miles) before – it all depends on the atmospheric conditions.
“We put a lot of thought and discussion into how to present it and where to present it and what kind of trajectory it would have.
“We all felt it would be majestic to have it beamed from Edinburgh Castle over Calton Hill.”
Unique Events directors Al Thomson and Penny Dougherty said: “As we pass the one-year anniversary since lock-down restrictions began, reflecting on the year past, but now looking ahead with renewed hope and optimism, we believe it is more important than ever to let some light back into our lives, celebrating the work of our NHS Staff and key workers, and look forward to a brighter future for all.
“Global Rainbow lights up the skies above Edinburgh but we are asking everyone to please be responsible.
“If you can’t see it from your local area, please don’t travel, but enjoy the images and video footage at the official website and on social media.”