Artist turns over a new leaf with more waterside figures

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IT STARTED out with just one lonely "leafman", reclining on a park bench by the Water of Leith.

The figure, with his green wellies, flat cap and coffee cup, got walkers talking as they wondered who could have been behind his appearance near Belford Bridge this autumn.

Now the plot has thickened, with more sculptures appearing alongside the river - and still no clue as to who is behind them.

Two young children have now appeared by the side of the water, both well wrapped up in woolly hats, wellies and gloves. The older one is peering into the water, while the younger dangles from the railings, clinging on tightly to her cuddly toy.

The sculptures have not only been a hit with walkers on the footpath, they have also gained a virtual following after Stockbridge resident Juliet Wilson posted a snap online via Twitter.

Ms Wilson, a humanist celebrant, said: "I walk up and down there quite a bit and there are quite a few of them now, and they're so sweet. It would be quite nice to see who was doing them.

"I remember last winter there were some snowmen down there that were sitting on benches and things, so I wonder if it's the same person."

The leaf-folk provide a seasonal echo of the more high-profile human sculptures adorning the Water of Leith, 6 Times by Antony Gormley. The bronze figures, based on a cast of Gormley's own body, were placed along the river this summer, running between the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the sea.

Ms Wilson said she thought the leaf figures made the perfect accompaniment to the Gormley pieces. "It's such a lovely part of town, it's like the countryside in the middle of the city. I think with the Gormley thing up the Water of Leith, it's nice that there's other art up there that's anonymous and it's got people talking to each other."

Trust manager for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, Helen Brown, said she had no idea who had created the figures - but said they had been a huge hit with people enjoying the river. "We did a bit on our news blog on it and got some lovely comments back from people saying they'd seen them, asking who was doing it, and how nice it is that the Gormleys have gone in, you've got the man sitting on the bench down in Leith (the sculpture of Sandy Irvine Robertson outside Malmaison hotel], and you've got St Bernard's Well. There are quite a lot of figures appearing along the river.

"And then when he had his offspring as well, it was brilliant. I think they're great, absolutely great - biodegradable art. It's just part of people making their own impact on the river, and I think it's lovely."

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