Ship comes in for Leith Sailors statue

THEY were meant to reflect a sense of civic pride in Leith's seafaring heritage.

But within months of being installed, the three Cavorting Sailors statues became targets for vandals – with one of them even being uprooted and stolen.

Now the artist behind the life-sized monuments has launched a bid to see the remaining two restored.

Local artist Shaeron Averbuch spent two years designing and creating the statues, but it took just four months for them to be hit by vandals.

A concrete whisky bottle belonging to one of the sailors was ripped off soon after the installation, while other limbs have been taken from the characters.

Ms Averbuch had wanted to paint blood-coloured paint over the statues to reflect their wounds, but that idea was rejected in 2004.

Graffiti has also been daubed across the sailors over the past few years.

Ms Averbuch, who installed the statues beside Leith Library in 2003, said: "Of course you expect any kind of public art to sustain some vandalism over time, but not this much and not so soon.

"I had hoped in the past that they could be lit up, because that would prevent them being targeted, but that has not happened."

Ms Averbuch says she is determined to involve the community and local children as much as possible in the campaign.

"I've got a whole load of ideas for what could be done with the sailors – anything from staging a live art event around the sailors to having them digitally projected on to a building," she said.

"Even a humorous play to document their own demise would be good."

To aid the restoration bid, a grant application of 5000 has been made to the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, which is expected to be favourably received.

That money, with the backing of Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council, could help fund an event such as a community film involving children, to mark the restoration.

A spokesman for Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council said the statues were hugely popular locally.

He said: "We have been asked to support this project and we do. Local people really value them and they have been well received since they were introduced by the community. Art in the public realm is extremely important, and so too is it for us to remember our maritime heritage."

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