Antony Gormely's 6 Times was formally launched this morning at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
The renowned sculptor answered questions and posed for photographers with the first of his six human figures, this one buried up to its middle outside one of the gates on Belford Road.
Gormley sees the work as an experiment in participation and Time. 'It asks questions such as: What is art? How and where can art be seen? How is art integrated into the wider world?' The works' impermanence, their rusting and decline, make them 'a register of change and a catalyst for change'.
Yesterday Spurtle began to raise concerns about how seriously Edinburgh would take the work, and whether the figures themselves would survive the unwelcome attentions of those who do not care for them. Gormley first played down the addition of a pink bikini to his Stockbridge piece: 'I thought of it as a rather nice, welcoming garland,' he said. Second, he was unconcerned by the threat of vandalism. The works – each weighing about three-quarters of a ton – are made of very high-grade cast iron, and nobody without specialist equipment could do them permanent harm. He expects them to last for a thousand years.
In an interesting aside, Gormley revealed that originally there were to have been only four figures. However, a conversation with Richard and Florence Ingleby – gallery owners and former Broughton residents – convinced him that additional locations in Bonnington and St Mark's Park were as important as more scenic ones upriver. Not to have engaged Edinburgh's everyday present and industrial past 'would, in some ways, have been to miss the best parts of the city'.[img_assist|nid=881|title=|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=200|height=150]
The sculptor was therefore heartened by Gallery staff's accounts of the installation in the river overlooking Powderhall. Local children had been calling out directions to the crane driver – 'Left a bit, right a bit, up a bit, down a bit', while parents expressed themselves touched and surprised that the area should have been chosen for a piece like this.
In Gormley's words, his work is where 'mood, time and place come together in a constant algorhythm of change.' We're glad it's here and we wish him well.