IRVINE Welsh is one of five celebrated writers whose words will illuminate landmarks around Edinburgh as part of a free “journey of discovery” in January.

The Trainspotting author will recount meeting a worldly-wise sailor as a boy growing up in Leith as part of Message From The Skies: Shorelines, a cross-artform collaboration running across the city from New Year’s Day to Burns Night.

Set to music by Welsh’s long-time collaborator Steve Mac, Welsh’s words will form part of a film by local artist Norman Harman projected on the facade of the Malmaison Hotel, itself a former sailor’s mission.

A couple of years ago, Welsh told The Guardian how, though he now lives five minutes from the Atlantic Ocean in Miami Beach, his favourite shoreline remained the beach at Silvernowes; an “unbridled treat” while growing up in Muirhouse.

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His new piece of writing for Message From The Skies will join similarly watery-themed work by Charlotte Runcie, poets Robin Robertson and Kathleen Jamie and Kayus Bankole, one-third of internationally acclaimed Edinburgh band Young Fathers.

Presented by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Book Festival and produced by Underbelly in association with Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust, the ambitious city-wide project is now in its third year, with previous editions premiering a short story by Val McDermid and a selection of writers’ “love letters to Europe”.

Marking the start of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, Message From The Skies: Shorelines sees the writers reflect on our relationship with the sea, waters and coasts and the country’s maritime heritage, with locations including the City Chambers, the Nelson Monument and the Northern Lighthouse Board on George Street where Karine Polwart will read an exploration of Scotland’s lighthouses written by Runcie and set to music by composer Pippa Murphy.

Each of the five new works will be brought to life via collaborations with musicians, visual artists, filmmakers and animators such as Thomas Moulson who has worked with poet Jamie to present her Seascape With WEC at the Union Canal, Fountainbridge.

For Shorelines, each writer was asked to explore ideas of Scotland as a coastal nation and how the world might view us from across the seas.

In Sugar For Your Tea, Bankole sets his lyrical sights on those Scottish businessmen who profited from the slave trade while also musing on his own identity as a Scotsman. Filmed through water and light by choreographer/filmmaker Rianne White, Bankole and his words will be projected on top of the City Chambers.

“Over the last couple of years, Message from the Skies has carved out a fascinating place for Scottish writers in Edinburgh’s Hogmanay streetscape,” says Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

“This year’s contributors have taken on the theme of Shorelines and each, in very different ways, has come up with an especially thought-provoking text. Be in no doubt: these writers have compelling and surprising things to say about Scotland’s relationship with the waters and seas around us, offering new ways of looking at this amazing city, but also new ways of thinking about our rich history.”

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A Message From The Skies app, available from January 1, has been designed to increase access to the project to those outside Edinburgh. For locals and those able to visit it offers opportunities to deeper explore each collaboration, as well as translating each text into Chinese, French, German and Spanish.

Included too are maps to guide visitors from location to location and some audio commentary from the writers on what inspired their texts.

“With the app you’ll have the written word, the audio track and the voiceover of the actual text,” says creative producer Amanda Rogers, who worked directly with the writers in finding the best locations and collaborators to realise their work. The idea was originally to take a tour of our capital city and you can certainly do that – all of these are within walking distance,” she continues.

“I’m really proud of what’s been achieved. Through collaborating with other artists, seeing how different people can work together, we’re bringing something that is free to the public for that time between Hogmanay and Burns Night, something that celebrates the artistry that is part of Scotland.”

January 1 to 25, projections run daily at each location from 5pm to 10pm, free, unticketed.