It seems like only yesterday that I was watching a video released by the organisers of the recurring Hidden Door Festival (first launched in 2010) which led us up and down the streets of Edinburgh – eventually revealing the secret location for this year’s culture, art and music event – the Market Street Vaults. I love exploring locked, hidden and private spaces (like the Open Doors day in September) so I marked my calendar and kept an eager eye on the Hidden Door facebook page for glimpses of what they had in store for this year.
Finally, from the 28th of March until the 5th of April we were allowed access to this series of disused arched, stone vaults. Accessed from Market Street, these vaults provide the structural support for the street above, and as Jeffrey Street slopes down to meet Market Street, the vaults begin to get smaller and smaller – like a series of rooms designed for the set of Alice in Wonderland. These graduated vaults created a sense of scale and drama for the events within – large rooms with bars, bands and DJ’s which could hold up to 200 people eventually led to small, dark, damp spaces which only allowed a few people at a time access to the artistic offerings held within. By the end of the journey, only the vertically challenged folk (like myself) could stand upright – finally it was a bonus to be short!!
We went at night, so the darkness combined with the atmospheric lighting in the vaults, made taking pictures a bit of a challenge but I think you can get a feel of the space and creativity of the event. Following this event, the vaults are due to be taken over by a property development group. I have mixed feelings about this. It will be fantastic to see them put to use on a more permanent basis however, it would be a crime to see them cleaned up, modernised, sterilised and filled with soulless chain stores. I’d love to see the quirkiness and grittiness preserved as a space for artists and craftspeople. Only time will tell…..
Our last stop was back to the first and biggest vaults where DJ’s and bands were attracted the biggest crowds. We could barely squeeze ourselves into the back row so after a couple tunes we resurfaced from the vaults, back to the ‘real’ world (almost…..)
It was a mild, calm evening so on our walk home we stopped by another artistic installation (thank you to the City for keeping us so cultured!!), the Bruce Munro Field of Light in St. Andrews Square. I have already seen so many amazing photos of this – especially from the top of Harvey Nichols – but we couldn’t help taking some of our own. What was amazing was you could take the same exact shot over and over, but because each bulb cycles through a range of colours, each picture looks different!
The atmosphere in the square was lovely. Normally at that time there would only be a couple people walking about, but the lights drew people in. Walking, sitting, taking pictures, holding hands – creating an atmosphere of community – everyone sharing in the experience. I was especially impressed that the light show was synchronised to music!!! The cool, soft rock, electronic notes created a new age type ambience that totally lifted the whole experience. I looked all over for speakers but as I looked out onto the pavement – just outside the square – I noticed a busker with an electric guitar!!! As we were ushered out of the square at closing time we made sure to drop a few pound coins in the guitar case; I hope he goes every night because it really brought everything together – sound and vision. Although Hidden Door Festival is over, you can still check out the Field of Light until the 27th of April from dusk until 10pm, free entry. Busker may or may not be included 😀