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Nuts and bolts of public art

Pauline McLean | 20:38 UK time, Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Eagled-eyed motorists on the A1 may have spotted an unusual sight amongst the sheds and warehouses of the Macmerry Industrial Estate at Tranent.

Towering above the rooftops is a giant crouching man, which even on the greyest day, offers a fantastic silhouette against the skyline.

This is the latest work from Antony Gormley - best known for the Angel of the North - and the closest he's come, in terms of scale, to that work.

He made contact with Had Fab Ltd in East Lothian after a number of other companies told him his project was unworkable.

With 5,000 randomly orientated elements in a variety of angle-sections connected by 547 nodes and 14,000 bolts, the work is complex as well as big.

And while the scale didn't bother a company used to designing sub stations and electricity pylons, they did find the design a challenge.

"I didn't say we couldn't do it," says Had Fab's managing director Simon Harrison," but a lot of people did and even our fabricators, who're used to very complicated projects, had their doubts at the beginning."

But they did it and have spent the last few weeks assembling the work.

Antony Gormley was there to see for himself today, as was a delegation from Holland, where the work will be shipped shortly. It'll be part of a public art commission at Lelystad on the Zuiderzee coast, east of Amsterdam.

Dismantling will begin on Monday, despite the growing interest in the project from the local community.

The company have had so many enquiries about the giant in their yard that they even staged an open day to let the public get up close and personal. Hundreds attended, and the opening hours had to be extended.

But fans of Gormley's work will have to settle for the more modest figures striding through the Water of Leith, which he's made for the National Galleries of Scotland.

One is already in place at Leith Docks. The other five figures in 6Times will be installed in the next few weeks ahead of the official launch at the end of June.

And the crouching giant in Tranent? He'll disappear from the skyline as quickly as he appeared.

But keep your eyes peeled off the coast of Holland for a work of art genuinely made in Scotland from girders.


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