An exhibition of mind-bending photographic illusions created by young people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, opens in Edinburgh just before Christmas.

The Power of Perspective features a host of striking images that play with perceptions and perspectives – with shadow people flying real balloons and juggling coloured balls and “invisible” people reflected in water.

The project involved a group of 16 to 25-year-olds from around Scotland supported by the Rock Trust who worked with illusion expert Professor Richard Wiseman and the Edinburgh International Magic Festival – known as MagicFest.

Running from 22 December to 26 January, and free to see, The Power of Perspective is being hosted at two venues.

The photos will be displayed at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and visitors can then go into The Museum of Edinburgh to find out the secrets behind how the illusions were created.

Prof. Wiseman, who is also the writer of the MagicFest children’s show You Are Magic, said: “I really enjoyed working with these young people – they had such enthusiasm and imagination. The pictures they have created are superb and it will be really fun for visitors to see if they can work out how some of the illusions were created.

“Illusions help people to perceive the world in a different way, and I hope that will happen here. Likewise, it is important that we make myths surrounding homelessness vanish and replace them with a more accurate way of seeing what’s really going on.”

The Power of Perspective is an outreach project being run as part of the 10th annual MagicFest, which is bringing magical events of all kinds to the city over Christmas and the New Year.

Organisers, Svetlana McMahon and her magician husband Kevin Quantum, believe that sharing the skills involved in magic can bring major benefits to young people.

Svetlana said: “Looking at these photos you can see straight away how much the young people have learned – it takes a lot of skill to create photographic illusions.  

“This was a brilliant way for them to gain confidence by getting involved with something that is really creative, lots of fun and got great results. They have every reason to be very proud that the illusions they have created are being included in a public exhibition.

“We really hope that the project can help these young people to be seen and heard and contribute to their transition to adulthood while avoiding or moving on from homelessness.”

Rock Trust is a youth homelessness charity that has been based in Edinburgh since 1991. As part of its youth development services in Edinburgh, it runs weekly groups for young people that focus on skill-development and creating new opportunities. A significant aspect of this involves working in partnership with other local groups and organisations, to increase participants’ networks and open new doors. 

The partnership with MagicFest has been a successful example, offering young people attending the group a chance to develop their photography skills and work alongside professional magicians, illusionists and photographers.

Kate Polson, Rock Trust CEO, said: “Providing our young people with opportunities to develop their skills and share their perspectives is an integral part of what we do at Rock Trust and we were delighted to work with Edinburgh Magic Festival on this project. 

“The final pieces that have been produced are phenomenal and the young people involved are rightly proud of what they’ve created. We would highly recommend everyone go along and see the exhibition in person.” 

One of the youth participants added: “Being involved in this project and having the opportunity to play a small part in how homeless young people and homelessness are viewed has been very humbling and rewarding. I hope this exhibition will show we are just young people who have had bumps in the road and no one is safe or immune from the grasps of homelessness, it can happen to anyone. This exhibition and these illusions aim to show how we feel and our opinions.” 

The exhibition is just one of the attractions at the Scottish Storytelling Centre during the festive season.

Daniel Abercrombie, Programme & Events Manager, Scottish Storytelling Centre, said: “For the second year running we are pleased to partner with MagicFest to see our exhibition wall covered in the young people’s illusions and tricks. How did they do it? I have no idea, but it looks great fun!”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Convener of Culture and Communities said: “This exhibition is a fantastic example of a positive collaboration between our city’s venues, museums and galleries and one of our exciting local festivals.  

“Once visitors have seen the mind-boggling images in the Scottish Storytelling Centre they can visit us in the Museum of Edinburgh to see what was involved in their creation. A fascinating insight, everyone can appreciate the new skills learned as well as all the hard work by the young people that has been put into the exhibition.  Come along and witness the magic”.

See the exhibition:

  • Where: Enjoy the illusions at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR and then see how they were created at the Museum of Edinburgh 142-146, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DD.
  • When: Sunday 22 December to Sunday 26 January. 
  • Entry: Free.
  • Times: See website for exact opening hours during holiday season.

Funding partners and sponsors: Jessops, Kiran’s Trust, Scotmid, University of Hertfordshire. Venue partners: Scottish Storytelling Centre, Museums & Galleries Edinburgh.

A selection of the photos is available here ( or on request. 

– ENDS –

MagicFest events include:

The Opening Night Christmas Gala: An eclectic mix of the weird and the wonderful including Harthill-local-cum-Vegas-headliner Colin Cloud and Magic Circle Young Magician of the Year Adam Black. Enjoy a multitude of breath-taking illusions from top magicians and the most talented newcomers. 

Hogmanay House: Magical “First Foot” adventure at Lauriston Castle – escape the dreich weather, join us for a dram or a hot chocolate and make merry as musicians, magicians and storytellers celebrate the magic and origins of Hogmanay. Featuring world-class card magician Lewis Barlow, singer/songwriter Ainsley Hamill, mind reader Drew McAdam, silver-tongued storyteller Jock Ferguson, and more.

You Are Magic: Huge fun for children and families. A magic show conjured up from thin air where the audience become the stars – do you have the skill to saw someone in half and put them back together again? Packed with thrilling illusions, spooky mind reading, stunning sleight of hand, and death-defying escapes. Presented by the Magic Gareth and Michelle Ferguson and written by YouTube star Professor Richard Wiseman.

Kevin Quantum “Anti-Gravity”: Enter a space where the rules of gravity are bent and broken. Impossible illusions and levitations in a ★★★★★ show mixing science, comedy and magic, brought to you by Scotland’s own magician-scientist hybrid Kevin Quantum. Winner of the “Best Magic” award at the Adelaide Fringe 2018.

Comedy Magic Club: Have your mind blown and laugh yourself silly with the funniest, scariest, and freakiest, conjured for your delight in our magic comedy club for ages 16+. Featuring Elliot Bibby, Luke Eaton, Cammy Young, Cammy Gibson, Dan Bastianelli and special guests.

Magic School: Now enrolling young sorcerers aged 7-10 can to learn magic tricks from professional magicians then astound your family and friends. Join a one-off sessions or a four-day course with a show for parents as the grand finale. Led by magician and Magic School headmaster Gary James. Magic School is presented in partnership with Kiran’s Trust and the Power of Perspective exhibition is kindly supported by Jessops, Kiran’s Trust, Scotmid Coop and University of Hertfordshire.

Tricky Ricky “Christmas Madness”: Four-times winner of Scottish ‘Children’s Entertainer of the Year’ Tricky Ricky takes you on a magical festive journey. Prepare to be amused and amazed in a fast-paced, nutty, comedic and chaotic magic show for kids aged from 1 to 101! 

This year Edinburgh International Magic Festival is moving from its usual summer dates to winter due to the tremendous popularity of the MagicFest Christmas Show which they have run for the past three years. New dates provided a perfect platform for developing a brand new exciting event concept Hogmanay House supported by The City of Edinburgh Council, EventScotland as part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals programme and Hope Scott Trust. 

Bookings: Online: Phone: 0131 226 0006In person: The Fringe Box Office 180 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QS. Monday to Friday 10.30am – 5.30pm.

  • The festival is a not-for-profit organisation founded and managed by event producer Svetlana McMahon and magician Kevin Quantum.
  • The festival promotes magic as an art form and celebrates the limitless possibilities of human imagination.
  • Since conception in 2010 MagicFest has welcomed over 60,000 visitors and has grown into Europe’s biggest festival of its kind.
  • MagicFest is leading the charge in the newly developing market of magic festivals appearing around the world, and aims to be the world leader in programming and producing innovative and cutting edge magic. 
  • The programme is balanced to reflect the best and most exciting magic from around the world alongside the very best in home grown work, aiming to amaze, inspire, provoke and entertain.
  • The Festival is also producing new work which celebrates Edinburgh’s unique historic environment and cultural heritage.

Website: Twitter: @MagicFest  Facebook: @edmagicfest Instagram: @edmagicfest

Rock Trust: Rock Trust aims to end youth homelessness in Scotland by ensuring that every young person has access to expert youth specific services to assist them to avoid, survive and move on from homelessness. We advise, educate and support young people to enable them to build the personal skills and resources required to make a positive and healthy transition to adulthood. We also work to ensure that the public, policy makers, commissioners and practitioners understand the issues, make decisions and take action which will end youth homelessness.

Kiran’s Trust: Kiran Martin died at the age of 18 from a brain tumour in 2008. Kiran was one of these very creative, fun loving and magical people you meet every now and then, and she will never be forgotten. Kiran’s Trust was founded on her birthday, 9th October, in 2009, as way of giving thanks for her life and celebrating the creative arts and sports, which she held dear. The Trust recognises this passion in other young people and provides support to help them advance in further education and participation in these areas.

Jessops: Jessops is a specialist camera retailer offering a wide range of digital cameras and accessories as well as providing high quality printing services. Jessops traces itself back to a chemist’s store in Leicester 130 years ago that was eventually transformed by Frank Jessop into a photography shop and further developed by his son Alan Jessop into cut-price retailer of photographic equipment. The firm had ceased being a family-run business in 1996 after Alan Jessop retired and was sold in a management buyout. In 2013 Jessops was rescued from administration by Dragon’s Den panellist Peter Jones, the company now has 58 outlets including 11 in Sainsbury’s stores.

Professor Richard Wiseman: Richard Wiseman is a psychologist, author and performer. He had written several best-selling books that have been translated into over 20 languages. Richard also presents talks exploring how to be lucky, the power of sleep, and the psychology of deception and illusion. Richard’s YouTube videos have had over 500 million views and he is one of the most followed psychologists on Twitter. Richard has created two highly successful YouTube Channels. His Quirkology channel contains quirky videos for curious minds and includes illusions, science stunts and bets you will always

For media information contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org.