Catch the West End elephant before it packs its trunk...

Edinburgh’s West End has welcomed an exotic new resident as part of a drive to establish the city’s ‘plinth’ for public art.

Baby Elephant, by Scottish sculptor Ronald Rae, has been installed on the corner of Hope Street and Princes Street, which has been earmarked as a space for visiting art by the Council.

The three-tonne, life-sized sculpture follows close on the hooves of the Kelpies maquettes, which occupied the corner over summer.

Rae, who also created the Lion of Scotland in St Andrew Square, loaned the Baby Elephant to Edinburgh to highlight the endangered status of the Asian elephant, of which there are only around 2500 left in the wild.

Transport Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “This generous loan from Ronald Rae will provide a welcome addition to the city’s vibrant West End, which recently underwent a series of improvements.

“It is our intention to bring the area to life with even more art and sculpture in future, so I would encourage anyone visiting or living in the city to pay ‘Edinburgh’s Plinth’ a visit.” 

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture and Sport Convener, said: “Public art, and outdoor sculpture in particular, is a cultural activity everyone can enjoy and engage with, and by creating a dedicated ‘plinth’ for visiting sculpture we are opening art up to a whole new audience.

“We are grateful to Ronald Rae for this loan, which will not only brighten this corner of the city up, but raises awareness of a serious issue.”

Jock Miller, Chair of the West End Community Council, said: “The West End Community Council is delighted to see the Baby Elephant following the success of the Kelpie Maquettes. It is hoped the baby elephant will bring enjoyment to the residents of the West End, the wider Edinburgh community and tourists alike.”

Ronald Rae is currently holding an exhibition of granite sculptures at the Falkirk Wheel, including a 10-tonne Elephant Family.

He added: "I am delighted to see my Baby Elephant in the city centre. The West End plaza is a perfect place for outdoor art where the public can engage with sculpture as they pass by or sit with a coffee. This endearing work has a message - to make people think about the plight of elephants and to care for all creatures in the wild.”

Find out more about the Council’s Public Realm Manifesto online.

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