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« Orchids on the river banks | Main | Juniper Green Clean-up »

6 TIMES – Antony Gormley Statues proposed for the Water of Leith

Under the title ‘6 times’ Antony Gormley and the National Galleries of Scotland are proposing a multi-part work which would position six life-size cast iron figures between the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art grounds and the sea at Leith, with four of the figures situated at various points along the Water of Leith.

 Antony Gormley is an internationally acclaimed artist, earning recognition for his ‘Angel of the North’ sculpture in Gateshead and more recently the work entitled ‘Another Place’ where 100 cast iron figures were placed on Crosby Beach near Liverpool. This would be his first public installation north of the border.


The first figure would be situated in the Gallery grounds, buried up to chest level, the second placed in the pool behind Bell’s Mill Weir in Belford looking down into the water in a contemplative pose. The third in the river in Stockbridge begins to look upward, the fourth is planned for St Marks Park in the Powderhall area, number five is in Bonnington near the new section of walkway and finally the sixth sited on the end of the abandoned pier in Leith Docks.


The figures, like those placed at Crosby Beach, are based on Gormley’s body and will rust and age with time. As they will be in the water they will act as gauges for the height of the river and no doubt collect detritus. The works will be enigmatic and prove to be a great draw for visitors to the river, however their location and appearance will undoubtedly be provocative and stimulate discussion. Planning permission is currently being sought for the works and details can been seen on CEC's Planning Portal application number 09/01482/ful. We would be interested in your comments


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Reader Comments (21)

Isn't there enough of Gormleys around the UK, why do we need to any more, and based on his own body, surely one is enough..Its about time, the Councils, the government, and the Lottery funding, put a stop to all this and got their priorites right, and free us of the Rusting old man, and has for the one, up on some oxford college, lot of good that is doing, not sure you can actually see it!!

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranne

I really like the idea. I think it will encourage a lot of visitors to the area and increase awareness of the river.

July 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteryvonne

I think it's a wonderful idea. I've walked among the figures of the Crosby installation and it's thought-provoking and beautiful. This scheme would, as another commenter said, raise awareness of the river. I can see that detritus might be a problem, but detritus is an issue anyway, statues or not. I'm all for it - 110%.

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercurlsdiva

I have seen both Anthony Gormleys work at Crosby and the Angel of the North and like them enormously, however I do see the point in transplanting these figures to the water of leith, can some original work not be created?

July 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterelaine

These statues of a naked man bear no relevance to the river, which is a pleasant environmental corridor stretching through the heart of the built-up city. We can see no purpose except to shock. Were the man to be fishing (clothed!) or perhaps doing something connected with the milling activities of old, there might be some rationale, but 4 naked images would be totally out of place. They would have no relevance, would rust, and would serve only to collect debris.
We love the sculpture of the otter at Dean Bridge, whilst the swan at St Bernard’s Well, though perhaps not in the right place, was at least relevant to the river. We fear however that 4 nude statues will just encourage vandalism and perhaps nude bathing by drunks. They are not wanted.

July 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Betts

I agree with those who stae that these scuptures are not representative of Leith. The Water of Leith is one of the areas that can be opened up to show the wildlife and fish that are in the area between Broughton and Coburgh Street. Seven years ago, a survey showed that salmon were present in this area for the first time in nearly two hundred years. In the Redbraes area. we see an increase in the birds and others species that are being attracted to the water. Statues show nothing other than artistic skills by some well known artists. What it needs is to help nature play its parts and for funding to open up these areas for access by the people to enjoy the process of nature in an attractive environment..

August 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Thomson(R.A)

Margaret and I run a charity book shop in Stockbridge and we fully embrace Gormleys work - one of the statues is just along from our shop and we will be checking in on it on a daily basis -WeI just hope the local heron isn't frightened by it's presence.

June 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert & Margaret

following on from Mike Betts' nude jakey fears I'd like to suggest that we really should take away the abstract styled Henry Moore sculptures at the G.M.A forthwith as they can only serve to encourage many visiting and impressionable youngsters to deviate away from the traditional and time honoured skeletal formations which are vital to bipedal existence.

June 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterangus leith

A few rusty metal men - wow so artistic and novel! Why not just stick with the rusting shopping trolley...

As a Powderhall resident I think this is an absolutel disgrace... The water of Leith is home to a lot of wildlife including herons, kingfishers and many other creatures. There are many pieces of art within 10 minutes walk of the water of Leith but there are not so many peaceful areas filled with the wildlfe of the water of Leith.

June 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Maybe these sculptures are representational of each and everyone of us.... Wherever our situation, do many of us actually gives the time to contemplate our surroundings? personally, I feel this work can engage the viewer to become more aware. We could try to hypothetically put ourselves in the sculptures position and contemplate the essence of sense of place and passing time.

I came across the Stockbridge one on Thursday evening and initially mistook it for a fisherman due to the degree of foliage. Thought it was a spoof and so googled it.

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJ. Doar

I didn't know about these installations going into the Water of Leith, I regulary walk my dog alone along by Powderhall and can you imagine the fright I got when I saw a naked man in the river!!! Thought it was a dodgy weirdo exposing himself in a novel way ... Not keen, surely there is something more worth while the money could be spent on, say conservation for starts! It would certainly save elderly locals from near flippin heart attacks! :-)

June 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

I feel strongly that the choice of site for this statue is a great shame - it suddenly appeared, without any consultation I know of to people using this part of the Water of Leith for relaxation and exercise, and spoils what was an all too precious open view along a lovely sweep of the water framed by greenery, which was enjoyed by everyone using the public walkway over the bridge. I also feel it will be a target for either vandalism or kids trying to wade out to it - why was this particular spot choisen for what is an extremely domineering statue in an area of contemplative beauty? I get the 'concept' of the six figures, but please re-site this one to a less vulnerable spot!! - it can't cost that much, anyone for starting a campaign?

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

To clarify, my comment referred to the statue placed in the river by St Mark's Park.

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

I am attending the Press Launch on Tuesday when Antony Gormley will be leading a walk along the river explaining the rational behind the statues and the chosen locations, I will be interested in what he has to say and I will take these website comments with me to see his response

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

Totally disagree with some of the above negative comments about these sculptures. From the one that I have seen I think its fantastic, it gets people talking about the river and more intrigued to visit it whilst at the same time soaking up the local nature....I dont see how anything can be wrong about that..

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarly

I work near Powderhall and the Water of Leith and was pleasantly surprised to meet a man standing in the middle of the water. I think this sculpture is great - certainly I stopped and gave it some thought - and walked away chuckling. This is what we need - more art of all sorts, in all sorts of places. Certainly there is a lot of art in Edinburgh, but you have to go looking for it. Here it is in a public place where many people will just come across it. It brightened my day. More please.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIain

I didn't realise these statues were planned until I came home and did a Google search after encountering the one at St Mark's Park while out walking with my son today. It sparked an interesting conversation with my three year old and meant that we stopped and enjoyed the river for perhaps longer than we normally would do. I can't agree with the comments that it spoils 'a lovely open view of the river', a view that includes the huge Powderhall Rigg housing estate and B&Q could hardly be described as open. I do agree that the statue might be vulnerable to vandalism where it is as the river is quite narrow and shallow at that point, but I hope I am proved wrong. Now that I know this is one of six such statues our family will take a walk along the river to see them all and I'm sure many others will do likewise, which can only be a boost for the river itself and the areas of the city it runs through.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlison S

haa im sorry but ive just studied art and have actually grown a better undersatnding of what to expect in terms of sculpture and this is one of his better ideas i like the idea that he is creating these stautes like they act as a resemblance to nature and how human should realise that we are not so different to nature for those that cannot except them live with it and try and have an open mind...really a naked man is not something to be shocked about i mean come on we are all naked underneath and its not something we havent all seen before. I think its a great representation of humans becoming part of nature again on a journey and what better journey than that of a river.

June 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkayleigh

There will never be enough of Gormley's work! His masterpieces are unobstructive and bring a great feeling of calm and peace . I simply cannot wait to see those amazing structures from my own eyes.

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPascaline

I think they are beautiful: they make me peaceful and cause me to slow down and think a little ... about life and nature. Their simplicity is uplifting in a quiet way. Well done ...

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMyra

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