Sculptor's coathanger crucifixion is unveiled

ONE of Scotland's most celebrated artists has unveiled his latest major work in the heart of Edinburgh's Royal Mile — a crucified Jesus Christ made out of coathangers.

• Fife-born artist David Mach created his 9ft Christ using 3,000 coathangers. It was mounted briefly yesterday outside St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. Pictures: Neil Hanna

The 9ft tall figure is one of four David Mach is creating for a major solo exhibition he is staging in the capital next year to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

The Fife-born artist best known for his huge tyre sculptures and the "Big Heids" installation by the M8 motorway hopes they will tour the world before finding a home in places of worship in Scotland.

More than 3,000 coathangers were used to create the one suspended from huge steel supports outside St Giles' Cathedral yesterday. It is hoped it will be hung on a cross outside the City Art Centre, on Market Street, to promote next year's exhibition, which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The crucifix made only a fleeting appearance for several hours in Parliament Square before being returned to a studio in Peebles which Mach uses.

Up to 120 new biblical illustrations, as large as 12ft by 10ft, by Mach will be going on display, while they will also be featured in a limited edition "artist's version" of the Bible.

His "collages" will feature his interpretations of biblical stories such as the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Crossing the Red Sea, Noah's Ark, Jesus' miracles and the epic visions of St John.

Mach, 54, who has no religious belief himself, has been in talks for more than three years with Edinburgh City Council, which runs the Old Town gallery, after deciding to pursue the exhibition because of the King James Bible's links with his native Fife.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland met James VI in 1601 at Burntisland Parish Church, where it was agreed to commission a new translation of the Bible, which famously went on to become the first common Bible for the English-speaking world.

Mach, who has used waste products, newspapers, bricks, containers and toys for previous sculptures, said the crucifix had taken more than three months to create.

"People will recognise the stories in the collages, but they will all have a contemporary dimension," he said.