Last night, Mr Tracks and I took part in a most wonderous event.
NVA, a Glasgow-based public arts charity, has created an inspirational piece of interactive art as part of the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival.
Using Edinburgh’s glorious landmark, Arthur’s Seat as one of the key players, this event involved us, the audience, as both participants and spectators as we gently climbed the hill in the dark.
We knew we were in for something special as we were given our ‘light sticks’ to help illuminate our way. But this was just the start of our physical, sensory and emotional journey.
As we left the ‘base camp’ of the briefing centre and entered the darkness of Holyrood Park and the foothills of Arthur’s Seat itself, we became part of the art. Our group, with our lights, formed a beautiful organic string of pearls against the hillside, gently ebbing and flowing with the pace of our tread.
And then, in the distance, against the backdrop of Salisbury Craggs, we saw for the first time the many-coloured and bejewled fairies and fireflies that would accompany us on our ascent. Sparkling and twinkling, threading their way around the night paths of the landscape. These were light-besuited runners who had trained for months to raise their endurance and stamina to be part of this event. And how beautiful they were, individually and together. Their self-powered suits, with morphing lights, sometimes matching eachother, sometimes different, were like the best ever Christmas tree lights, on real trees (well, grassland anyway).
As we neared the summit, our light sticks became sound sticks, delicately transmitting sine wave songs. A near-heavenly orchestra to accompany our contemplations as we looked out over a glittering Edinburgh and beyond, with our own personal light ballet below – a combination of the runners and other pearly groups following behind us.
Our descent gave us time to take in all the marvels of our experience. As the event’s brochure puts it:
“the temporary overlaying of light, sound and movement – fuse together to reflect, reveal and transform what is there physically”.
I am full of admiration for the NVA team and all those involved in creating this event – for their vision and for delivering it so perfectly. This includes all the helpers on the night, our walking guides and the field guides who stood patiently to light our way at particularly tricky points. I feel honoured and privileged to have been part of something so memorable and moving.