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Edinburgh International Festival’s poignant exhibition plots a Blueprint for the Future

Public art installation created by Edinburgh high school pupils opens at Old College Quad

The Edinburgh International Festival unveiled Blueprint for the Future, a free art installation showcasing the work of Edinburgh young people displayed in a specially-crafted pavilion by local design company Old School Fabrications, and set within the beautiful surrounds of Edinburgh University’s Old College Quad. Inspired by imagined letters from their future selves, this exhibition of prints conveys how the young people might advise, warn and inspire themselves, and shape the years to come.  

The creative writing and visual art project asked teenagers from nine secondary schools across Edinburgh to consider how they might impact the future. The resultant installation charts the hopes and dreams of its artists, allowing visitors to explore how young people perceive their adult lives unfolding.

Young people aged 14 and 15 from high schools including Broughton, Firhill, Castlebrae, Gracemount, Holyrood, Liberton, Royal High, St Thomas of Aquins and Tynecastle created the artworks on display, working with six professional artists based in Edinburgh to consider their present and future selves.

Combining the art of letter writing with cyanotype printing, an early form of blueprinting, pupils created their own letters and then used these as the inspiration behind the cyanotype prints on display. The final exhibition reveals the funny, secretive, ambitious, and self-conscious observations of the authors, providing a candid insight into the teenage psyche. The exhibition is free to view and will be open to the public until 28 August.

High school students attend Blueprint For The Future exhibition

The project was created by the International Festival’s Creative Learning team and is inspired by Letters Live, the much-loved celebration of written correspondence presented by Canongate Books which appears at the International Festival on Sunday 27 August. Each show features a range of performers giving live readings of letters from across the centuries and all around the globe, from Bronte to Bowie and Eisenhower to Elvis.

Sally Hobson, Head of Creative Learning at Edinburgh International Festival said: “The International Festival works with young people throughout the city on a year round programme of inspiring projects. Blueprint for the Future, based on aspirational ideas, has given young people in schools the opportunity to explore their perceptions of the world and their very personal hopes and fears for the future.  We are delighted to present these ideas and insights in the heart of the city, in the grounds of the University of Edinburgh’s Old College for the duration of August.”


Photos © Beth Chalmers

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