Nostalgia: Art in the heart of the Capital

Vera Simons' inflatable sculpture above the National Gallery of Scotland in 1986

Vera Simons' inflatable sculpture above the National Gallery of Scotland in 1986

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EDINBURGH was this week celebrating a new £3.5 million centre which is set to turn the city into an international hub for contemporary sculpture.

The Capital has a long history of displaying eye-catching and unusual sculptures by both international and local artists.

The National Gallery of Modern Art's latest acquisition: the sculpture "The tourists" by American artist Duane Hanson, Standing at the foot of the Mound, in January 1980.

The National Gallery of Modern Art's latest acquisition: the sculpture "The tourists" by American artist Duane Hanson, Standing at the foot of the Mound, in January 1980.

In 1986, art imitated an art gallery when American artist Vera Simons used an acre of translucent material to create an inflatable second storey of arches and pillars above the National Gallery of Scotland at The Mound.

The balloon sculpture, erected during the Edinburgh Festival, was especially spectacular at night when interior lighting caused it to glow.

Another American artist, Duane Hanson, caused a bit of a stir when his lifelike sculpture The Tourists was unveiled at the foot of The Mound in 1980.

The sculpture, now located in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, depicts a typical American couple – complete with summer clothes, sunglasses and cameras – sightseeing in the city.

Sculpture in Dalkeith in 1965

Sculpture in Dalkeith in 1965

The work of the prolific Leith-born artist Eduardo Paolozzi can be found dotted around the city. His Hand and Foot sculptures are located at the top of Leith Walk outside St Mary’s Cathedral, while his massive Vulcan sculpture reaches from floor to ceiling in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Ice was the medium used by craftsman Sergeant Charles Birdaeze when he created his 250lb fish sculpture as a centrepiece for a party at the USAF base at Kirknewton, Midlothian, in 1964.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh artist Ronald Rae chose granite for his work, which included a 12-tonne sculpture of two figures huddled together against a storm, displayed at the Cramond Sculpture Park.

Eduardo Paolozzi in 1972

Eduardo Paolozzi in 1972

An engineer works on the Kinetic sculpture in  Leith Walk, 1973

An engineer works on the Kinetic sculpture in Leith Walk, 1973