NEL staying ahead of the game

THE decision by New Edinburgh Ltd, (NEL), the development company behind Edinburgh Park, to commission bronze busts - or herms - of a dozen of Scotland's leading poets was warmly welcomed by the Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland, and has been an inspiration to employees and visitors to the park.

As Ian Wall, a director of NEL explains, the company's interest in poetry in Edinburgh Park began with a display of regularly changing poems in the development's bus shelters.

Stimulated by the example of the architect Josef Plecznick in Ljubljana, NEL decided to enrich the central area within Edinburgh Park with 12 herms of 20th century Scottish poets. Building on the New Town grid design by the park's master architect Richard Meier and Partners, NEL decided that the rhythm set up by the lochans and the regular planting of lime trees at four-metre centres would be ideally complemented by the addition of four herms per lochan. There are three lochans in all, hence the total of 12 herms. The poets chosen are Douglas Dunn, W. S. Graham, Hamish Henderson, Jackie Kay, Tom Leonard, Liz Lochhead, Norman MacCaig, Hugh MacDiarmid, Sorley MacLean, Naomi Mitchison, Edwin Morgan and Iain Crichton Smith.

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As Wall notes, others may have chosen alternative poets, but NEL hopes that developers of other business parks and spaces might be stirred by the example set at Edinburgh Park to commission sculptures of other poets and artists.

The herms are not the first sculptures in the park. Other pieces include Epitaph for the Elm, by Tim Stead and Questor by Keith McCarter. An excellent book, Twelve Poets at Edinburgh Park, was published by the Trustees of the National Gallery in February 2005, to mark an exhibition of the 12 bronze herms of the poets held at the National Gallery at the time.

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