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John Byrne: The Ghost Light

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Edinburgh International Festival commissions Scottish playwright and artist John Byrne to create an artistic response to the concept of a ghost light.

There is a centuries-old tradition in theatres the world over that a single light is always left illuminated on stage. It is a symbol that, though the theatre is empty for now, the building will be filled with laugher, tears and applause once again. This powerful image has inspired Edinburgh International Festival’s 2020 activity entitled My Light Shines On, celebrating the enduring spirit of the festival city in these difficult times.

Paisley-born artist John Byrne has always created work that eludes association with any singular style or movement in art. His gift is in capturing the spirit of his subjects, a talent he has turned to an original artwork that strikes the essence of My Light Shines On. Byrne has a long association with Scottish theatre, he created the iconic mural on the ceiling of The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh and has designed for the Traverse Theatre and Scottish Opera amongst many others. As a playwright he is best known for The Slab Boys Trilogy, his series of plays exploring working class life in Scotland, before he went on to become one of the nation’s foremost television writers. 

Byrne’s newly commissioned painting The Ghost Light now decorates Edinburgh's theatres and concerts halls as they prepare to be illuminated in a spectacular celebration for 2020.

Eif John Byrne Painting 1