City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotsman Steps Restored in Marble


By Editor - Posted on 24 June 2011

Scotsman Steps corner

The Scotsman Steps have been fully restored in marble along with a new piece of public art by Martin Creed.

The Scotsman Steps project has seen Edinburgh World Heritage and the City of Edinburgh Council working with the Fruitmarket Gallery to bring the historic steps back to life, and provide a grand public passageway between the city’s Old and New Town.

Originally built in 1899 as part of the Scotsman newspaper offices, the steps were run down and worse for wear with graffiti on the walls, damage to the stairs and recurring anti-social behaviour.

A conservation project started on the Scotsman Steps last September, funded by the Council and Edinburgh World Heritage.

With materials sourced locally, new lighting, lead work and painting has been finished along with the installation of new handrails and iron gates.

Work has also been completed on the re-glazing of the interior windows and extensive masonry repairs to bring the famous landmark - now a hotel - back to its prime.

The Fruitmarket Gallery commissioned the Turner-Prize winning Scottish artist, Martin Creed in a £250,000 special art project. The artwork called, Work 1059 has clad each of the 104 steps in a different colour of marble.

The work has been supported through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund for Edinburgh Art Festival 2010, as well as several generous individual and corporate donations.

It is hoped, that the refurbishment and artwork will improve the condition of the steps reduce the anti-social behaviour once associated with them.

Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: "The City can now be truly proud of the Scotsman Steps, which are now worth seeing in their own right, as well as being a handy short-cut through the city. The project has brought together the flair of artist Martin Creed and the traditional skills of stone masons, in the process transforming the steps and adding a bit of good old-fashioned delight and discovery. Steps such as these, and the narrow closes of the Old Town, need careful treatment to make them safe and attractive for residents and visitors.”

Many years ago the Scotsman steps were used by final year art students at Edinburgh School of Art as a gallery for selling their paintings at the end of the summer term, it would be good to see this return.

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I used these steps frequently when I was working at The Scotsman. Stank of pish, but still had some faded grandeur. There's a lot of stairs as well - over a hundred.

I like the fact that Martin Creed had a sense of humour about his choice of materials. As he pointed out himself, marble is frequently used in toilets and the stairs were frequently used as a toilet. But looks good...