Celebrating Burns Night 2022 with new virtual reality artwork

21 January 2022
Artist David Mach with his work The Flying Haggis commissioned by the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies
A new artwork by the Scottish artist David Mach for the University of Glasgow, celebrating the global reach of the Burns Supper and Scotland’s national bard, will be officially launched in virtual reality on Burns Night.

The artwork, called ‘The Flying Haggis’, was commissioned by the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies to mark the end of a two-year project, researching the history of Burns Suppers, and mapping these events in the 21st century.

It features some of the over 350 images crowdsourced from people around the world who submitted photos of their own Burns Night events in 2021, many of which like this year were held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.


As well as watching the official launch of the new artwork, members of the public will be able to experience the story and legacy of the Burns Supper as never seen before, including a virtual trip to Alloway Auld Kirk as Rabbie imaged it in ‘Tam o’ Shanter’.

Artist David Mach beside his work The Flying Haggis with Dr Pauline Mackay, a Lecturer in Robert Burns Studies 

David Mach said: “You’ll see ‘Flying Haggis' is not a stiff affair. I wanted to make a Burns Night that Robert Burns himself would want to attend. It’s a collage but acts more like a film on pause, press play and the action will carry on. Even the room joins in the extravagance of the night. 

“There’s an almost orgiastic celebration, Scottish to kick off but soon joining together all the liberal, freethinking, independent, romantic spirits of the world.”

The artwork will be unveiled as the centrepiece of a Virtual Reality exhibition, created as part of the ‘Burns Beyond Reality’ collaboration between the University’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies and immersive learning platform Edify

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The global appeal of Robert Burns

The Centre for Robert Burns Studies research has mapped more than 2,500 worldwide contemporary Burns suppers brought together on an interactive world map

The University of Glasgow has continued its partnership with the Scottish Government which aims to harness the global appeal of Burns and his works to the rest of the world and position Scotland as a great country to live, work, study, visit and invest in.  Delivered by Brand Scotland, this year’s international marketing campaign will celebrate Burns Night and encourage people to discover the best of Scotland’s past and present, carrying the bard’s enduring messages of friendship, love and kindness into the present day.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said: “The work of Robert Burns continues to enrich and influence the lives of millions of people in Scotland and across the globe. Burns Night is a time for celebrating the legacy of our most renowned poet and long-held Scottish traditions, but it’s also a prompt to appreciate today’s forward-thinking Scotland.

“David Mach’s new artwork, and the global virtual events and resources created to mark Burns Night, give everyone the opportunity to celebrate Burns and his legacy in new and exciting ways.”

Professor Gerard Carruthers, Co-Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies (CBRS) based at the University’s College of Arts, and principal investigator on The Burns Supper in History and Today project, said: “Today, it is estimated that over nine and a half million people around the world take part in a Burns Supper every year. The Burns Supper is a huge testimony to the bard’s enduring appeal not only within Scotland but around the world

“With the conclusion of our research, we believe we have now created a one-stop shop for everything you want to know about the Burns Supper, past and present.”


Report courtesy of University of Glasgow. Images copyright Martin Shields