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Bronze Swan Sculptures - Edinburgh Quay

Thieves can't swan off with these big birds

The flock of bronze pigeons at the top of Leith Walk have been plagued by thieves and vandals since they were first installed nearly ten years ago.

Now their sculptor has unveiled a new flock of birds by the city's canal - and has taken steps to ensure the same fate won't befall them.

Shona Kinloch has designed ten bronze swans and hopes that their bigger size will help to deter the vandals who have managed to steal some of the pigeons from Elm Row.

The swans were unveiled yesterday at Edinburgh Quay, Fountainbridge, as part of the £60 million development of the area.

They have been arranged waddling out of the Union Canal and heading for the city centre.

The statues, which were cast by Edinburgh company Powderhall Bronze, are actual size and weigh in at 50kg.

They are being fixed to the boardwalk area with a more secure technique than was used on the pigeons to counter the thieves.

Ms Kinloch, 44, said she hoped people would enjoy the statues.

She said: "It's a vision of the swans coming out of the end of the canal and heading towards the city centre.

"I watched the swans in the park and took lots of photos and thought they would make good statues.

"I just hope they will not be as easy for people to take away."

It took Ms Kinloch around five months to sculpt the swans in clay.

They were then taken to the foundry where it took several more months to cast them in bronze.

Seven of the statues are sitting down while the remaining three appear as they are walking away from the water.

Brian Castor, founder of Powderhall Bronze, said: "This is the same idea as the pigeons. They are very popular pieces but unfortunately you get the vandals who want to destroy these things.

"Like the pigeons we expect the local community will take ownership and look after them."

The swans were commissioned by Edinburgh Quay Ltd, a joint venture between the developers of the area Miller Group and canal operator British Waterways.

Miller is about to begin its second phase of construction which includes new luxury flats, offices and shops surrounding the end of the canal.

Pamela Grant, development director of Edinburgh Quay Ltd, said: "The swans are the finishing touch to the first phase of the development.

"The swans are fantastic and we are delighted to be able to include work by a Scottish artist within Edinburgh Quay, which is itself an outstanding example of unique design and build innovation.

"I'm sure the swans will be a welcome attraction for those who spend time at Edinburgh Quay."

The Elm Row pigeons first appeared ten years ago but have been plagued from the start by vandals and thieves.

In one incident they were smashed into by a hit-and-run driver.

Edinburgh arts impresario Richard Demarco welcomed the statues and said more should be done to recognise the city's public art.

He said: "I'm delighted that the swans are now permanently installed at Fountainbridge.

"She's a very good sculptor and knows exactly what the public like to see. The more sculpture we have in the city the better."

Jonathan Lessware and John Gibson

Evening News, Wednesday, 10th May, 2006