Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Discover Edinburgh's Public Art

28 January 2016

Edinburgh has an incredible variety of art galleries across the city, from the grand Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street to the intimate Scottish Gallery on Dundas Street, but this city is also home to a wealth of amazing public art. As you're walking around streets, look out as you may just come across some interesting and intriguing pieces of work by world renowned artists.

Take a look at our selection of just a few of the fantastic pieces of public art you may spot while you're out and about in Edinburgh. 

Manuscript of Monte Cassino

Found outside St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral

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Perhaps more commonly known as “The Big Foot”, the Manuscript of Monte Cassino is a three piece sculpture made up of a foot, an ankle and a hand – together they are an allegory for pilgrimage. The sculpture was created by Edinburgh-born Professor Sir Eduardo Luigi and inaugurated on the 6 September 1991.

Dreaming Spires

Found outside the Omni Centre

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This photo op favourite, created by Midlothian born artist Helen Denerley, was unveiled by the Omni Centre 27th July 2005. The two giraffes, nicknamed Martha and Gilbert, were made from scrap metal including parts from cars and motorbikes. The inscription surrounding the sculpture is from a poem by Roy Campbell, written in 1946, and reads “'Giraffes! a People Who live between earth and skies Each in his own religious steeple Keeping a lighthouse with his eyes.”

The Regent Bridge Light Installation

Found underneath the Regent Bridge on Calton Road

Regent Bridge Lights CE

This colourful light installation underneath the Regent Bridge was devised by Callum Innes and introduced a permanent commission by the Edinburgh Art Festival in 2012. Innes worked with architect and lighting artist Gavin Fraser to transform the impressive arch of the bridge from what was previously dark tunnel into an illuminated path of floating colour which beautifully enhances this architectural gem.  

Lion of Scotland

Found in St Andrew Square

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The mighty Lion of Scotland statue has been at his home in St Andrew Square Garden since 2010, although some of you may remember him in his former home outside the Scottish Parlaiment in Holyrood Park. This impressive sculpture was hand-carved by Scottish sculptor Ronald Rae. It was craved out of pink Corrennie granite from Aberdeenshire and weighs a huge 20 tonnes! It is a firm favourite with visitors to the square and especially with local families and their children. 

Beachcomber

Found at the west end of Rose Street

Rose Street Beachcomber CE

These beautifully detailed panels which stretch across several windows were commission by Essential Edinburgh as part of a scheme to regenerate Edinburgh's Rose Street. They are also a celebration of the work of the so called 'Rose Street Poets' who used to gather in the pubs along Rose Street - the panels illustrate and feature the words of the poem Beachcomber by George Mackay Brown who was associated with the Rose Street Poets. The design was initially created as a handmade paper cut by Edinburgh-based artist Astrid Jaekel before being reproduced into large steel panels by Pentland Precision Engineering in Edinburgh. The work was shortlisted for the Adrian Henri Prize for Poetry in Art in 2013 and for the Association of Illustrators (AOI) Awards in 2014.

First Conundrum

Found outside One Square Bar and Restaurant on Festival Square 

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This impressive work by Remco de Fouw was inspired by neolithic Scottish stones. Neolithic stones have been found throughout Scotland and although their use is not known for certain many believe them to have been a form of currency, thus are appropriate for this public art work in the heart of Edinburgh's financial services district. The spheres used in this piece are made of a variety of materials including limestone, granite, stainless steel and bronze.  

The Bronze Swans

Found at Edinburgh Quay, Fountainbridge

Bronze Swans Quay CE

The flock of 10 bronze swans (three pictured above) which occupy this picturesque spot at the end of the Union Canal were unveiled in 2006 as part of the £60 million development of the Edinburgh Quay area. They were designed by Glasgow-born sculptor Shona Kinloch and cast by Edinburgh company Powderhall Bronze. 

Fish and Boat Sculpture

Found at the entrance to the Commercial Quay in Leith

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This striking sculpture was commissioned to commemorate the redevelopment of the Commercial Quay in Leith in 1997. It was designed by Jois Hunter and Master Blacksmith Peter Johnson of P. Johnson & Company, the artist blacksmith company which also created the Pinnacle at the foot of Leith Walk. 

Let us know which your favourite public artwork is in Edinburgh. Send us a photo on our Facebook page or use #edinphoto when posting your photos to Twitter and Instagram.

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