January 4, 2021
Filmed in the Highlands near Spean Bridge, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay concludes this evening with Part 3 of its 2020 online celebrations, entitled Fare Well. A visually captivating and emotive experience for online viewers, Fare Well has seen 150 individual drones take to the skies to deliver the UK’s largest swarm drone show with the much-anticipated finale broadcast this evening.
“You ken this night. Here, we cry it Hogmanay-
a rhyme for the French of l’homme est nee-
the man is born. So, aye, the New Year’s born
at midnight. Good riddance to the last page torn
from this scunnered year. And though we can’t First Foot
with lumps o’ coal, black bun, a Raasey Malt,
or join thigither in a ring o’ haunds,
singing Auld Acquaintance fit to break the band,
we send out Hope into this Scottish air”
Whilst part one and two of Fare Well looked at the year gone by, the finale turns from the celebration of Hogmanay, the end of the year, and looks with optimism to the future. Taking inspiration from a poem by Robert Burns (Sketch New Year’s Day), Scots Makar Jackie Kay echoes Burns’ question about the night of Hogmanay and asks what did ‘yesternight deliver’ and like Burns, finds that there is hope, and that it is found in nature. Burns finds hope in looking up at the skies and says that something in us never dies.
“We share the planet’s air. What’s yours is mine…
There ur seeds on the air which wull be trees.
Choreography on the air, danced by bees.
There’s auld licht made braw by a billion stars”
Jackie Kay, Scots Makar said “In these lockdown days and nights – everyone in their separate bubbles – it was a magical experience to form a virtual creative bubble to make this new piece, a magical meeting of music, poem and drone, to say goodbye to all the difficulties of 2020 and a tentative hello to the coming year. We have had to dig doon deep this year and find new ways of being creative at the bottom of the well! And what we came up with surprised us all. Art has never been more intimate.”
The collaborative experience of Fare Well, brought together a number of creatives to work with Jackie Kay. The nature of the pandemic meant that this work was done remotely – the creatives never met all together. However, the pandemic has led indirectly to this spell-binding, innovative and imaginative piece of work that would otherwise not have happened. Fare Well combines the oldest technology of words from Jackie Kay, with the music of Skye-based Celtic fusion band, Niteworks, the illustrations of Scottish illustrator, Gary Wilson, and the cutting edge of today’s technology, the drones, choreographed and programmed by swarm drone pioneers, Celestial. John Hopkins, director for Celestial, also directed the film that makes Fare Well.
Using sophisticated AI software to choreograph their movements, the drones from Celestial reached an altitude of 150m and top speeds of up to 25mph to form images created by Scottish illustrator, Gary Wilson.
John Hopkins, Director of Celestial and Director of Fare Well, said “At Celestial we pull down the stars to create a brand new artistic medium that brings people together through a shared sense of wonder. For the Hogmanay commission we combined the ancient medium of poetry with our cutting edge artistry to represent a journey from the past and into a brighter, greener, healthier future.”
Visual development artist Gary Wilson said “It’s been a hard year. We’ve had to adjust our lives to the unexpected and unpredictable. We’ve had to separate ourselves, and find new ways to be together. These pieces are our attempts to capture that in words, music, and images; all working in different places, never meeting beyond the screen. It was a daunting task, unlike anything I’ve worked on before, but I think we’ve come up with something worth sharing. It may not be how we would normally ring in the new, but celebration is as much about hellos as goodbyes.”
Reflecting Jackie’s poem, the drones in Part 3 depict a series of images including a baby representing the rebirth of a new year; two hands reaching out to touch, highlighting our sharing of the planet’s air with us and of nature, depicted by Scotland’s eagle soaring above Edinburgh. Part three concludes with the words ‘WE ARE ONE – 2021’ – an emotive and hopeful conclusion to Fare Well that, together and with nature, we can build a better future.
Lending their voices to the third part are renowned actors David Tennant, Siobhan Redmond, Lorne MacFadyen and Scots Makar Jackie Kay. Joining the lineup are Blessed (aged 16 from Aberdeen), Miren (aged 9 from Glasgow) and Heather (aged 18 from Glasgow). The film is set to a specially composed musical score from Skye-based Celtic fusion band, Niteworks.
“We say Wha’s like us, singing Auld Lang’s Syne.
We share the planet’s air. What’s yours is mine.”
Innes Starchan of Niteworks said “It was a bit of a daunting prospect at the beginning of the project to provide the soundtrack for something that will see out a year which for many has been so difficult. It was really important to us to get the tone of the music just right, to marry with Jackie’s poignant words and to reflect the emotions of the country. We feel privileged to be involved in what is such a significant project and hope that we’ve managed to create something that along with the pictures and words is moving in the right ways.”
Fare Well can be viewed this evening (31st) at 7pm. The stay-at-home event series is FREE to watch and streamed at edinburghshogmanay.com so Hogmanay fans all over the world can tune in from the comfort and safety of their homes.
An exclusive behind the scenes and ‘making of’ documentary is also available to watch on www.edinburghshogmanay.com.