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Edinburgh’s love affair with Public Art

We recently took a weekend trip to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh and can I say just how truly amazing this city is? My daughter, who is reaching such levels of Harry Potter knowledge that it would be her mastermind special subject declared the city to be “As if Hogwarts got hit with an Engorgio charm”. And if you are wondering, yes we also had to get a coffee in The Elephant House and Spoons (formerly The Nicholson café) where JK Rowling wrote much of the early chapters of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter aside, the city is a magical place; twisting wynds, cobbled streets and a skyline like no other. But what I couldn’t get enough of was the huge array of public art that is scattered throughout the city. Much to my dismay our camera died a painful death before I was able to retrieve the photos I took, so I have cobbled together photos of some of my favourite pieces of public art from various different source, please forgive me! Alternatively go for a visit and see these pieces in all their glory! (P.S. this website was great for helping us plan our trip)

First Conundrum

Based on Scottish Neolithic rocks this group of round stones can be found in Edinburgh’s financial district. It is an apt setting as little is known about the meaning of Neolithic rocks but experts believed that they could have acted as a form of currency. This modern take on them are made for a variety of metals and stones- there is limestone, bronze, stainless steel and granite spheres and all are wonderfully tactical. To me they evoked a sense of play, they were like giant marbles left out after a game, yet knowing that their origin comes from ancient Scotland they were something wonderfully timeless about them.

Kirk Of Canongate

This on the move statue honours Robert Fergusson (1750–1774) an influential Scottish poet and satirist who is buried nearby. The statue doesn’t stand on a plinth but instead is on the street and on busy days he almost blurs into the crowd. I simply love this approach to historical figures, and it is made all the more apt being in Edinburgh. This is a city where the past and present are so closely intermixed that it feels incredibly natural to see Mr Fergusson jauntily strolling through the street as if the passage of time was a mere inconvenience to him.

Dreaming Spires

#Edinburgh #dreamingspires #edinburghgiraffes

A post shared by Nat Guest (@natfguest) on

This sculpture of two giraffes looking skyward is cobbled together from pieces of scrap metal, car and motorbike parts. Affectionally known as Martha and Gilbert they are surrounded by an excerpt of a poem written by  Roy Campbell:

“’Giraffes! a People Who live between earth and skies Each in his own religious steeple Keeping a lighthouse with his eyes.”

I love the juxtaposition of the natural and elegant form of the giraffes with the industrial materials they are made from. Similar to the statue of Fergusson there is something wonderful about seeing them be part of the crowd, again no plinth for these guys, just the pavement. They reach high above the bustle  though and I feel that there title of Dreaming Spires is especially evocative.

These were just three of my favourite  pieces we found on our travels through Edinburgh, there were so many more we came across and I can’t wait go back to find even more!

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