Antony Gormley’s friends haunt Edinburgh and are foiled by the Bikini Vandal

Many in Edinburgh will already have noticed Antony Gormley’s 6 Times, a series of six cast iron, life-sized figures positioned along the Water of Leith (a river, in case you hadn’t heard) between the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art and the sea at Leith Docks.  The exhibition, commissioned by the National Galleries of Scotland, optimises the beauty, fecundity and occasional seclusion of the Water of Leith along its most well-trodden section, taking the participant through the natural beauty of the glen and it’s busy, green banks, into the picturesque Dean Village, under the magnificant Dean Bridge and eventually through neighbourhoods and some fantastic disused industrial architecture before arriving at the Port.

There’s no doubting that the walk itself is well worth doing, Gormley or not, but the presence of these firgures adds a certain mystique, a feeling of connectivity with the city and other walkers (and of course the many gawkers and photographers the figures are attracting daily) as well as an odd feeling of loneliness and longing which is inevitable given the characters’ isolated nakedness and distant gazes.  The tall, slender bodies are characteristic of Gormley’s sculpture, but each of the six has its own personality and orientation.

Gormley's figure looks up towards the bridge in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Gormley is well-known for his figures, particularly the Angel of the North, but Edinburgh’s 6 Times is more reminiscent of Another Place, which places 100 similarly pensive characters along 3 kilometres of foreshore at Crosby Beach outside Liverpool, integrating them into the natural flow of water and distantly interacting with recreational visitors.  6 Times has been well received in Edinburgh overall, receiving a welcome review in the Scotsman.

I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to do so, if for no other reason than to drag you down the Water of Leith, one of my very favourite things to do in Edinburgh (okay, maybe without the dragging).  And while you’re at it, spare a thought for the now infamous intervention of the mysterious Bikini Vandal, whose addition (pictured below) has now unfortunately been removed.  I’m not advising you to steal a traffic cone and place it on one of the heads, but let’s just say that if you did, I would find it hilarious.  Suggestions for more interventions welcome.

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