A Drama in Time

Graham Fagen (Artist)

Research output: Other contribution


A Drama in Time is a public neon artwork installation, commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival. Graham Fagen situated the work below the Waverly train station rail bridge, nearby steps leading up a steep shortcut from Edinburgh’s Old Town to the New Town, the location deliberately chosen by Fagen to illuminate a metaphoric parallel, a kind of Jacob’s Ladder, ascending from earth to the afterlife.

The work was seen by over 171,600 people in the Festival period alone. Originally commissioned for the Festival’s duration (28 July - 28 August 2016) planning permission was granted for permanent display.

A Drama in Time draws on histories shaping Edinburgh’s forms and ideas, presenting iconic images in neon, illuminating a journey, a life, and questioning what lies beyond. Fagen researched Robert Burns (1759–1796) who in 1786 booked a passage on the ship The Roselle, sailing from Leith docks to Kingston and Savannah-la-Mar, Jamaica, for a job as an overseer of slaves on a sugar plantation.

Research into another celebrated historic Scot, environmentalist and city planner Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), also informs the work. Geddes worked to improve living conditions for the citizens of Old Town by bringing nature and humanity together, he suggested that ‘a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time’. With these two touchpoints of Burns and Geddes, Fagen reconnects Old to New towns, Jamaica to Scotland and past to present, developing his research interests in historical contrasts and personal lived experience.

A publication documents this commission: titled More Lasting Than Bronze (published by Edinburgh Art Festival, 2016).

A Drama in Time was supported by the Scottish Government Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, Event Scotland, Edinburgh World Heritage, Network Rail and New Waverley Community Fund (a partnership between City of Edinburgh Council and Artisan Real Estate Investors).
Original languageEnglish
TypeMulti component output
PublisherUniversity of Dundee
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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