Statue in the water just about gave us an art attack!

ART often provokes extreme reactions from members of the public, but not many are panicked into dialling 999.

Yet that's what happened when Antony Gormley's work was installed in the Water of Leith.

The sculptor has created six life-size cast-iron figures which stand in the river, titled 6 Times. Passers-by spotted one of the figures near Anderson Place, in Bonnington, and thought it was someone in the water or hanging from a tree.

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Victoria Prest was walking on the nearby bridge over the Water of Leith when her friend thought she saw something in the dark.

The 26-year-old student, from Marchmont, said: "My friend said, 'I think I've just seen a body'. We were quite scared. We called over and we didn't hear anything back so we asked a passer-by if there was a statue in the water.

"He said 'it's definitely not a statue' and by then my friend was already on the phone to the police."

She said that police were on the scene within five minutes, but it wasn't long before the mystery was unravelled.

She added: "The officer had an earpiece in, and someone in the control room obviously said, 'it's not that Antony Gormley thing is it?' We apologised and were on our way. It's mortifying, but it was quite eerie at the time."

The figure which sparked the panic is standing in the water, beneath overhanging branches.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is backing the project, is now considering putting up signs near the statues to prevent more false alarms.

It is Gormley's first public art commission in Scotland, but it's not the first time his work has sparked anxiety in unwitting onlookers. Emergency services also received calls when he placed similar casts on the edge of rooftops in London for another installation, Event Horizon.

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When the same project was repeated in New York, police issued a preemptive statement to the public warning them the installation was arriving, to avert a similar slew of calls.

The casts used in all three projects, and in Gormley's Another Time, on Crosby Beach in Merseyside, are based on the sculptor's own body.

A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders Police can confirm that two calls were received from the public on Monday afternoon concerning an individual apparently within the Water of Leith. Both of these calls related to sculptures currently on display in the area and the callers were informed of the circumstances."

It's not all bad news for Gormley, however, who is due to visit the Capital next week to officially launch the project. His installations have also inspired affectionate tributes from many of those who spot them, and 6 Times is no exception. Some of the 100 statues on Crosby Beach were dressed by members of the public, and one the Water of Leith figures has already had the same treatment, sporting a pink bikini within days of installation.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is backing the installation, said: "The National Galleries of Scotland are delighted that the installation of Antony Gormley's project for Edinburgh is nearing completion, and have been very pleased by the supporting comments received from the public while this has been happening.

"We are currently in discussions with the City of Edinburgh Council and the police authorities to finalise details for appropriate signage for the project."