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Edinburgh, Greenside Place, Dreaming Spires

Sculpture(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, Greenside Place, Dreaming Spires

Classification Sculpture(S) (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Leith Walk, Giraffes

Canmore ID 302342

Site Number NT27SE 6066

NGR NT 26035 74349

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian


Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association ( set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.

The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.

Field Visit (18 May 2006)

Two open-work metal giraffes, a mother and calf, stand in front of the glass façade of the Omni Centre, within a circle of bronze letters (a poem by Roy Campbell) on the pavement. The giraffes tower above passers-by who share the pavement with them, and look south towrds the east end of Princes Street, rather like tourists deciding which way to go. Their bodies are constructed of mainly curvilinear forms and open spaces. Some surfaces are textured, others volumetric. The recycled metal (discarded parts of motorbikes and cars) is unified by black paint, yet the overall impression is of a light and lively public sculpture.

In 2004 the Omni Centre invited six artists to design a sculpture related to the history of the site. According to Helen Denerley 'it seemed like the site was crying out for giraffes.' (1) She was awarded the commission at the end of 2004, but did not start work on the sculpture until January 2005. It was completed in June 2005, then transported to Cumbernauld to be galvanised, painted and assembled. It cost £50,000 and is officially titled 'Dreaming Spires', but affectionately known by the sculptor Helen Denerley and her team, as Martha and Gilbert.

In August 2005 various newspapers reported that the smaller giraffe's tail had been vandalised. According to Helen Denerley, the tail just unravelled through people touching it. She welded a steel band around the tail to prevent it unravelling further.

Inscriptions : A poem by Roy Campbell, written in 1946, is in raised bronze letters in a circle on the paving around the giraffes:

'Giraffes'. - a People Who live between earth and skies Each in his own religious steeple Keeping a lighthouse with his eyes

Signatures : None

Design period : 2004-2005

Year of unveiling : 2005

Unveiling details : Unveiled by Julian Spalding 27 July 2005

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN1544)


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