Antony Gormley comes to the Water of Leith – for 1,000 years

SIX cast-iron figures moulded by the sculptor Antony Gormley from his own naked body and sited along the Water of Leith should "last about 1,000 years", the artist said yesterday.

Gormley, best known as the creator of the soaring Angel of the North sculpture, was in Edinburgh to launch 6 Times, a 400,000 urban sculpture project that has been in the works for three years.

One of the life-size figures is buried up to its chest in the grounds of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art(SNGMA), four have been positioned in different stretches of the Water of Leith and a sixth looks out to the Firth of Forth from an abandoned pier at the Leith Docks. The figures are similar to those used in another popular work by Gormley, Another Place, at Crosby in Merseyside, where 100 cast-iron figures facing out to sea are spread along a two-mile stretch of beach.

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While the statues will disintegrate and wear at different rates, Gormley said: "I would say that they should last about 1,000 years."

The evocative pieces have already caused a stir in Edinburgh, with some residents mistakenly calling police to report a naked man wandering or hanging in the river, and pranksters decorating them with a bikini or woollen hat.

But Gormley has welcomed the test of public reactions to his "modest intervention" along a "secret river".

"I thought the pink bikini was a very nice opening garland of the work. I'm not too worried, these works are fairly robust. They weigh three-quarters of a ton each, they are solid cast iron.

"It's terribly important that everyone realises this is an experiment. We have to see how people will react to these works."

Philip Long, the senior curator at the SNGMA, said:

"They really take the gallery out, right across the city."

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