A towering work of art by one of the nation’s most celebrated sculptors, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, will be going on display in Scotland for the first time when it is relocated to a vast new “urban quarter” on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
The tycoon behind the planned expansion of Edinburgh Park has revealed plans to create a sculpture trail worth more than £5 million at the heart of the £500m development.
The firm behind the scheme – billed as the biggest new development in the city for more than a decade – say they want artists and performers to use the public square and gardens at the site as their own “canvas”. Lighting features, temporary art installations and pop-up events are also planned as part of a drive to make art an “intrinsic part” of the project.
The star cultural attraction is expected to be the Pop Art pioneer’s “half-man, half-machine” monument Vulcan, one of the last major bronze sculptures created by Paolozzi, but only previously seen on public display in England.
It is similar to the famous piece on permanent display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, where it has pride of place along with a recreation of the Leith-born artist’s studio. Born in 1924 to Italian immigrants, Paolozzi studied in Edinburgh and London before working in Paris. He would become one of the most influential Scottish artists of all-time.
Developer Parabola’s plans to put his work on display at the heart of the Edinburgh Park scheme have emerged months after the temporary relocation of a Paolozzi work – a big foot and an outstretched hand – away from St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral while building work on the new St James Quarter is carried out.
The Vulcan statue which is heading to Edinburgh for the first time was originally commissioned by Peter Millican, chairman of Parabola, for its Central Square development in Newcastle and unveiled in 1999, six years before Paolozzi died.
The artist created his depiction of the Roman god of fire and metalworking, who is said to have forged weapons for the gods and heroes, as “a monument to the modern industrial age”.
About 1,800 homes and more than 7,000 jobs are set to be created at the development, earmarked for land on both sides of the tram line near the Gyle Shopping Centre.
About 43 acres of undeveloped land to the south of the Edinburgh Park business park would be transformed under the plans by Parabola. It is hoped planning permission will be secured over the summer to allow work on the first phase to begin in the autumn.
It is expected to help tackle a shortfall of high quality office space in the city and boost efforts to attract major employers to invest in Edinburgh.
Millican points to the company’s track record of embracing culture with its Kings Place development in London, which is home to the Guardian newspaper, as well as a concert hall.
He said: “We are planning a number of sites for sculpture around the Edinburgh Park development. We will have a rolling commissioning programme.
“The Paolozzi sculpture will be there along with a number of other pieces when the first office opens in 2020.”