Scrap metal giraffes are sticking their necks out for art

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IT MAY sound like a bit of a tall story.

But the two giant metal giraffes that have appeared in the city centre are to become permanent fixtures - as the Capital's latest works of art.

They were due to be unveiled today by bosses at the Omni Centre, the multi-million-pound leisure complex at the top of Leith Walk, which spent 50,000 on the project.

Leading figures from the city's artistic community were expected to attend the unveiling ceremony for Helen Denerley's Dreaming Spires, which are made out of scrap metal.

The Midlothian-born artist, who has sculptures of various animals featured across the UK, as well as in Japan, spent two days in Winchester Zoo, Hampshire, studying giraffes before starting work on her project.

Ms Denerley, who lives in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, has been working on the sculptures for more than six months at a warehouse in Inverness-shire, with local school pupils studying the progress of the giraffes as part of their art classes.

Discarded parts of motorbikes and cars have been brought back to life to create the towering creatures, which have been erected on a concrete foundation outside the front doors of the centre.

Ms Denerley said she opted for giraffes after a visit to the area around Omni, when she decided it would benefit from a "striking" new work of art.

"The eclectic mix of people, art and architecture creates an atmosphere into which a fresh and simple piece of public art will sit well. The site needs a form which is visually striking, simple yet beautiful, powerful yet elegant, and a subject close to the hearts of those who see it.

"I felt it was important for the people of Edinburgh to have a sculpture that was forward looking in its approach. The graceful and powerful giraffes symbolise the aspirations of a country which has often felt the constraints of history and traditions, and now embraces the opportunity to look beyond them.

"I hope people will travel from across the city to see the giraffes and that they will become established as a new place to meet."

The giraffes - the taller of which towers 22ft high - will join a giant whale tusk, a huge foot and a flock of pigeons at either end of the street, which council chiefs want to see become Edinburgh's answer to the famous Las Ramblas, in Barcelona.

Omni bosses staged a design contest for artists to come up with ideas for a landmark work of art, which was a condition of planning consent for the complex, which boasts a hotel, health club, multiplex cinema, offices and a string of bars and restaurants.

Julian Spalding, the leading arts commentator, was due to perform the official unveiling today.

Veteran arts impresario Richard Demarco said: "I don't really see the relevance of giraffes to this area, but they sound fun and lighthearted, and anything that brightens up the front of that building has to be a good thing."

A spokeswoman for Omni said: "The giraffes are sure to become an Edinburgh landmark for their beauty and originality."

Kate Turnbull, a spokeswoman for Edinburgh Zoo, said: "Hopefully, Ms Denerley's work will capture the size and magnificence of these beasts, and fill the gap until giraffes are re-introduced to Edinburgh Zoo's animal collection."


LEITH Walk's most recent work of art until now has been the giant whale tusk sculpture outside the Kirkgate Centre. Its arrival led to the statue of Queen Victoria having to be moved several metres.

The most famous work of art in the area is Eduardo Paolozzi's giant bronze foot, right, outside St Mary's Cathedral.

And just across the road from the Omni Centre, where the giraffes have been erected, is a statue of Sherlock Holmes, the famous sleuth created by Arthur Conan Doyle, who was born on Picardy Place, where the monument is situated.

Further down Leith Walk, on Elm Row, there is a flock of eight bronze pigeons, which have had to be welded to the pavement to deter thieves.

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