A Drama In Time: Edinburgh Art Festival 2021

Graham Fagen (Artist)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


Graham Fagen is one of the most influential artists working in Scotland today. His work mixes media and crosses continents. Fagen’s recurring artistic themes, such as our relationship to our environments, histories, individual journeys, and popular music, are used as attempts to understand the powerful forces that shape our lives.

From the shadows below the rail bridge – where New Street meets Calton Road – the steps of Jacob’s Ladder offer an ascent from earth to the after-life, or a steep shortcut from the ‘Old’ to the New Town. The ‘ladder’ leads up into the Enlightenment monuments of Burns and Calton Hill with panoramic views towards the sea (where in 1786 Robert Burns booked a passage on a ship called The Roselle from the port of Leith to Kingston and Savanah-La-Mar, Jamaica – intending to work as an overseer of slaves on a sugar plantation).

Pioneering environmentalist and city planner Patrick Geddes (1854—1932) worked to improve the living conditions of the citizens of the Old Town. He aimed to achieve such improvement by bringing nature and humanity together, suggesting that ‘a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time’.

Fagen’s work (commissioned for Edinburgh Art Festival 2016) draws on histories that have shaped the city’s forms and ideas – and presents a narrative in neon illuminating a journey of a life, and questioning what lies beyond.

Access Information:
A Drama in Time is located along a busy road, a short walk from Waverley Station. The artwork can be easily viewed from the pavement and there is on-street car parking nearby and an NCP Car Park at New Street, adjacent to the site. The artwork is a visual installation of neon light drawings. There are no toilet facilities at this venue with the nearest public facilities located within Waverley Station.

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
Place of PublicationEdinburgh, UK
PublisherEdinburgh Art Festival
Media of outputOther
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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  • A Drama in Time

    Fagen, G., 2020, University of Dundee.

    Research output: Other contribution

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