Nude female sculpture replaces Burns on Calton Hill

A nude sculpture replaces Burns. Picture; Toby Williams
A nude sculpture replaces Burns. Picture; Toby Williams
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It has been one of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks for almost two centuries - but for most of its life has been closed off to the public.

Now the striking memorial to poet Robert Burns on Calton Hill is to be finally opened up during the 70th Edinburgh Festival - to showcase a brand new work of art.

Artist Jonathan Owen with his re-carved 19th century sculpture. Picture: Toby Williams

Artist Jonathan Owen with his re-carved 19th century sculpture. Picture: Toby Williams

Inside the neo-classical pavilion - where a statue of Burns was removed for good in 1839 amid fears it would be damaged by a nearby gasworks - artist Jonathan Owen has installed a female nude sculpture.

His recarving of a 19th century nymph will finally replace the Burns sculpture - which has been in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery ever since - throughout the Edinburgh Art Festival, which gets underway tomorrow.

It will also feature a tribute to Indian soldiers who fought in the First World War, which will fill the auditorium of the Royal High School on Calton Hill, a neon installation which will transform a gloomy Old Town underpass, and a “living monument” to the victims of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, which will be housed in the remains of a gothic off the Royal Mile.

A tribute to Irish republican figurehead James Connolly will also be staged in the church in the city’s Cowgate where he was baptised in the 18th century.

Art festival director Sorcha Carey said: “We are delighted to present work in several sites across the city which are not usually open to the public.”

The Edinburgh Art Festival runs until August 28.