Portobello Beach sculptures have locals bamboozled

Lewis Hammerson, left, and Saul Woehrling check out the artwork. Picture: Julie Bull

Lewis Hammerson, left, and Saul Woehrling check out the artwork. Picture: Julie Bull

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THEY look as though they were created by members of a long-vanished prehistoric civilisation.

The sudden appearance of two bizarre sculptures on Portobello Beach has set tongues wagging about where they have come from and what they’re supposed to represent.

I like the monuments. No-one knows where they have come from but local people have said it’s nice that they’re there.

Zuhair Sadol

Made of large stones balanced on sticks, the objects have already drawn comparisons with everyday objects including mushrooms, insects and spinning tops.

Believed to be the work of a local businessman, who has produced similar artworks in his spare time, they have sparked debate and discussion across Portobello.

Zuhair Sadol, manager of the Beachfront Bed and Breakfast, said he had spoken to a number of individuals about the sculptures while out walking next to the sea.

He said: “I like the monuments. No-one knows where they have come from but local people have said it’s nice that they’re there.

“People have interesting ideas as to what they represent. One person I spoke to about one of the sculptures said it reminded them of a man, his wife and their three children.

“I thought it looked like mushrooms and someone else said it could be insects living on the beach.”

Portobello is no stranger to creations of the area’s growing community of contemporary artists.

Last year, Lauren Fox unveiled Tidal Octopus – a marine-themed installation made from specially sculpted sections of steel – as part of Art Walk Porty.

The festival was organised to showcase Edinburgh’s seaside and celebrate the public space and artistic activity of Portobello.

Ms Fox’s 1.5 metre-long octopus was one of many site-specific artworks which were put on display from the start of September.

Among other objects on show were ceramic vessels, impressionistic paintings and a series of photographs exploring the impact of the sea on local people.

Mr Sadol said using the beach as a “gallery” for exhibiting art was a positive development.

“If it represents something that’s related to the beach and the sea, I think it would be a good thing,” he said.

Community leaders have welcomed the appearance of the stone and stick sculptures as further evidence of Portobello’s emergence as a culture and arts hub.

Sean Watters, secretary of Portobello Community Council, said: “I like the sculptures – it’s an interesting idea, well executed.” He added: “It’s the variety of ways in which the beach is being used now which is really important for the area.

“You have the artistic thing and the sporting thing. I think we’re really making the most of it. This is a great place to live.”

johnpaul.holden@jpress.co.uk