Leith Festival Banner

2020 marked the centenary of Leith’s amalgamation with Edinburgh, says Jai Adami, and look what we got

Leith Festival Gala Day and Pageant was seen as a wonderful way to celebrate this. Hence the idea put forward by Tracy Griffen, then festival coordinator, to seek funding from One City Trust for a project that encouraged those in Leith who saw this as their home, to create a Banner… not just any old banner but a special Leith one.

As Edinburgh’s port, Leith has traditionally been home to a diverse cultural population, the aim of the banner was to reinforce the identity of Leith as an inclusive multicultural place – encouraging participants to share experiences and their cultural identity. The idea of past present and future evolved through community discussion, with sails chosen to represent the three eras.

Working with a core group of Leith Festival volunteers, Shona James led the project with Ross Georgeson as workshop artist and facilitator.

Many groups and individuals from various cultural backgrounds, ages and abilities, gave of their time and shared their thoughts on what makes Leith home.

Many people were involved in the creation of the banner, including:

Ladies from Sikh Sanjog, children from Hermitage Park school and the Gaelic School, young people from the Citadel, people from the music group Safer by Sound, along with members of the community who came along to the open workshop sessions. Our thanks to everyone involved including Noel from Bare Branding for his help and advice.

The banner, which is 3.5 metres long, took shape in the early months of 2020, through workshops held at Leith Community Centre. It was due to be the centrepiece of Leith Gala Day 2020 but, alas, this was not to be.

Leith Festival board members have continued to keep the project alive after Covid restrictions with continued support from Ross, Shona and others.

The aim was, and still is, to nurture the feeling of ‘belonging’ and connectedness to the local community. With significant volunteer input to the design and content the contributors have produced this wonderfully colourful legacy of Leith, the centre part of which you see on the front cover.

The banner was intended to head the 2020 Leith Festival Pageant on Gala Day with a special marquee exhibition on Leith Links where visitors could add their signature to the piece, in a celebration of why Leith is home.

Sadly no Gala Day in 2020 or 2021 but we are very pleased to announce that the Banner will have its own very special exhibition in October 2021 alongside some of the art pieces created by our volunteers during their weekly art workshops.

This art project provided our volunteers with opportunities for self-expression and conversation, the sharing of cultural experiences, and building meaningful relationships during the long months of Covid 19 lockdown.

Thanks also go out to Morag Innes and Carrie Beattie the volunteer coordinators for keeping the project running throughout Covid restrictions.

Keep an eye on our social media pages for details of the launch and other special events.

Info: The Leith Festival Art Exhibition will run at The Image Collective located on the 2nd floor of Ocean Terminal shopping centre from 1st to 31st October 2021

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From top, left side of Leith Festival banner triptych, and right side. Photograph: Ryan Buchanan

The banner, which is 3.5 metres long, took shape in the early months of 2020

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