Edinburgh police warned as ‘humanoid sculptures’ return to Water of Leith

Antony Gormley's figures in the Water of Leith 'near Newhaven Road , Bonnington
Antony Gormley's figures in the Water of Leith 'near Newhaven Road , Bonnington
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ARTS bosses have been forced to warn the emergency services over the reinstallation of an iconic collection of sculptures in the Water of Leith – after they originally provoked a spike in calls from concerned residents.

Turner-prize winning artist Antony Gormley’s cast-iron, humanoid figures adorned the route from the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA) to the coast before being removed for maintenance.

However, gallery chiefs have now made police and ambulance services aware of plans to reintroduce the work – entitled 6 TIMES – along its original route after some locals and visitors mistook the pieces for endangered walkers who had fallen into the river during their installation in 2010.

The work was originally commissioned by the National Galleries of Scotland at a cost of £400,000.

The reinstallation project is due to be completed over the summer months.

Gormley, famed for creating the striking Angel of the North in Gateshead, commented: “It was a privilege to make these works for Edinburgh and now they are coming back to stay – I’m delighted.”

The first figure is to be located within the grounds of the gallery, while a second will be reinstalled within a basin of the river immediately behind the building.

A further three figures will be reinstalled at separate points downstream in Stockbridge, Powderhall and Bonnington, looking progressively up, right and left.

The final sculpture, situated at the end of an abandoned pier in Leith Docks, looks out to the point where the river course finally meets the sea.

Four of the six statues were previously fitted with a special pin mechanism that toppled them over to avoid them being damaged or blocking the 
river.

However, in 2012 they had to be removed completely in a bid to rectify repeated problems with the tilting mechanisms of the statues, which are meant to pop them up again when the water pressure eases.

Modifications have now been made to the fixings so the sculptures are permanently fixed to their mounts.

Simon Groom, director of modern and contemporary art at the National Galleries of Scotland said: “We are thrilled to announce the reinstallation of Antony Gormley’s 6 TIMES, which captured the imagination of so many locals and visitors alike when it was first installed in 2010.”

“We are extremely grateful to Antony, his studio, Edinburgh City Council and everyone else who has played such an active part in ensuring the success of the project.”

He added: “This is a meditative and reflective work, which brings art out into the wider community along Edinburgh’s beautiful Water of Leith.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com