Press launch Les Colombes St Giles Cathedral EDINBURGH

Art for Peace project at St Giles’ Cathedral

Burns&Beyond – Edinburgh’s flagship Burns festival – today launched the Art for Peace project Les Colombes.

Les Colombes, a major, internationally renowned installation created by Michael Pendry, is on display in St Giles’ Cathedral until Thursday 7 April with free entry to the Cathedral during the day.

The artwork can be viewed in the evenings with a specially commissioned soundscape and is central to a series of musical evenings featuring performances from the St Giles’ Cathedral Choir, Brìghde Chaimbeul with Aidan O’Rourke, and Rachel Newton.

Pendry’s compelling artwork features a floating flock of more than 2000 folded white paper doves suspended high above the St Giles’ Cathedral Nave bringing a message of peace, hope, humanity and new beginnings. The doves have been created by visitors to St Giles’ Cathedral and the National Museum of Scotland over the last two months.

Les Colombes is making its first appearance in Scotland as part of Burns&Beyond and only its third in the UK, having been created in Salisbury in 2018 and subsequently travelled to Munich, London, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires, San Francisco and New York.

Michael Pendry said: ‘Folded by different people, the Doves in their unity stand for such a fundamental human right. The time has come to admonish and to stand up for this – for the right to Peace and Freedom! So that the swarm of Doves might grow, from place to place, from country to country, across all borders.

‘Les Colombes has found a home in some of the world’s most sacred spaces, and now I’m thrilled to exhibit this piece in Edinburgh’s St Giles’ Cathedral, where it can challenge and engage new audiences.’

Les Colombes at St Giles Cathedral (Photo: Lloyd Smith / Unique Events)

Rev Calum I MacLeod, minister, St Giles’ Cathedral, said: ‘Doves are symbols of hope and peace in the Christian tradition and are seen as a sign of the Holy Spirit of God. I am delighted we are partnering with Burns&Beyond and Michael Pendry to welcome this installation to St. Giles’ Cathedral.

‘I am reminded that St Columba, who brought Christianity to these shores, was known as ’the dove of the church – Columcille.’ There are two stained glass windows depicting him in the cathedral. In these days of turmoil and violence in our world I hope ‘Les Colombes’ give hope of peace.’

On Thursday 31 March, the Choir of St Giles’ Cathedral along with organist Jordan English will perform choral music on the themes of peace, hope and reconciliation featuring music by Mendelssohn, Fauré, Elgar, MacMillan and Esenvalds curated and produced by Michael Harris, Master of the Music.

Unique Events, organisers of Burns&Beyond, will be donating all profits from the Wings of Peace concert to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and fundraising throughout the installation, to raise much needed funds to help all those in Ukraine affected by the current conflict.

On Friday 1 April, Brìghde Chaimbeul, winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award 2019, is joined by Lau’s Aidan O’Rourke. Working closely together they have devised a completely new way of arranging pipe music that emphasises the rich textural drones of the small pipes. On Saturday 2 April, singer and harpist Rachel Newton gives a special solo-acoustic performance. Rachel’s music draws on poems and ballads that are hundreds of years old, working them into her contemporary style to create a rich sound.

Tickets to all the musical evenings are available from

Burns&Beyond is produced by Unique Events and supported by City of Edinburgh Council and Essential Edinburgh. Les Colombes was originally scheduled for January 2022 but was rescheduled due to Covid restrictions.