Image of Graham Fagen's work, A Drama in Time, made up of 5 neon illustrations under bridge. The entrance to Jacob's Ladder sits on the left.

Graham Fagen: A Drama In Time, 2016

Jacob's Ladder

Permanent artwork commissioned for Edinburgh Art Festival 2016.

Please note, A Drama in Time is currently inaccessible due to work happening at Waverley Station.

Graham Fagen is one of the most influential artists working in Scotland today. His work mixes media and crosses continents. Fagen’s recurring artistic themes, such as our relationship to our environments, histories, individual journeys, and popular music, are used as attempts to understand the powerful forces that shape our lives. 

A Drama in Time takes inspiration and its title from pioneering environmentalist and city planner Patrick Geddes (1854—1932), who worked to improve the living conditions of the citizens of the Old Town. He aimed to achieve such improvement by bringing nature and humanity together, suggesting that ‘a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time’.

Sited on Calton Road, Fagen’s neon artwork is directly adjacent to the entry to Jacob’s Ladder, where from the shadows underneath a railway bridge, a flight of steps offer an ascent from earth to the after-life, or a steep shortcut from the ‘Old’ to the New Town. The ‘ladder’ leads up into the Enlightenment monuments of Burns and Calton Hill, with panoramic views towards Leith and the sea.

Fagen’s artwork specifically references Robert Burns and Leith, and in particular, the fact that Robert Burns booked passage on a ship called The Roselle, sailing from the Port of Leith to Kingston and Savanah-La-Mar, Jamaica – intending to work as an overseer of slaves on a sugar plantation. The successful publication of his first set of poems in 1786, shortly before he was due to set sail, led him to change his plans and he never went to the Caribbean. 

Fagen’s work (commissioned for Edinburgh Art Festival 2016) draws on histories that have shaped the city’s forms and ideas – and presents a narrative in neon illuminating a journey of a life, and questioning what lies beyond.

Access Information:
A Drama in Time is located along a busy road, a short walk from Waverley Station. The artwork can be easily viewed from the pavement and there is on-street car parking nearby and an NCP Car Park at New Street, adjacent to the site. The artwork is a visual installation of neon light drawings. There are no toilet facilities at this venue with the nearest public facilities located within Waverley Station.

Supported by the Scottish Government Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, Event Scotland, Edinburgh World Heritage, Network Rail and New Waverley Community Fund (a partnership between City of Edinburgh Council and Artisan Real Estate Investors).

Graham Fagen: A Drama In Time, 2016


Graham Fagen


Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder, Calton Rd / New Street Rail Bridge, EH8 8DL

0131 226 6558

Opening times

29 July – 29 August



Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder, Calton Rd / New Street Rail Bridge, EH8 8DL

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