'Dreaming Spires' – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura
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Edinburgh, Scotland

'Dreaming Spires'

Poetic, metallic giraffes adorn a square off an Edinburgh thoroughfare. 

Scotland has a long, beloved and historic tradition of poetry. Various sites throughout the city honor the art form, including “Dreaming Spires,” which features a quote from Roy Campbell.

While Campbell was South African, he was born to Scottish parents, so when the OMNI shopping centre decided to hold a contest in 2004 for a public artwork to be designed on its front square, artist Helen Denerley saw him as a perfect inspiration.

The short poem of his from 1946, which is quoted at the base of the sculpture, starts with the exclamation, “Giraffes!” which, to paraphrase Denerley “were what the site was crying out for.” The sculptures are made out of scrap metal and represent two giraffes, an adult and calf, walking side by side.

Nicknamed Martha and Gilbert by Denerley herself, the sculptures were completed in 2005 and, given their nearly 15 years of existence, are often overlooked by regular passersby. Given their location on a site of heavy foot traffic at the edge of the city’s Georgian New Town, it’s left to out-of-towners to take most pictures of these northerly giraffes as well as read the quote at their feet.

Know Before You Go

The sculpture is located in a public square and visible at all times.

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