Visitors to McEwan Hall, the late 19th-century graduation site for Edinburgh University, might be forgiven for overlooking a work of art that is on full display and in public view. Without having previous knowledge of the sculpture’s existence, it’s easy to miss.
For starters, the piece entitled: “The Next Big Thing… is a Series of Little Things,” by Susan Collis is located on the ground. It begins at the big wooden door, that was the original entrance to the auditorium, and runs all the way across the open quad, including a set of stairs. It consists of 1,600 copper droplets that cover a span well over 200 feet (68 meters).
The metal globules are meant to imply a path as if someone had just strolled across the courtyard with a leaking container. The piece was commissioned by Edinburgh University in 2017 as part of a renovation project for Bistro Square. Collis wanted the sculpture to be inconspicuous and the metal beads to become polished over time, as human traffic wears down the metalized sheen.
Collis had this to say about her work:
“I was delighted to be chosen to create a public artwork for Bistro Square. It is a deliberately unobtrusive work – in contrast to other grand bronze figurative sculptures in Edinburgh - suggesting that even the small and subtle can make a major statement. I hope that everyone who passes by enjoys it for years to come.”
Know Before You Go
Because the purpose of McEwan Hall is to hold graduation ceremonies, the area around the building, Bristo Square, may be congested with graduates and their families. Graduation celebrations occur twice a year, in the winter, November/December, and summer May/June.
Also, during the month of August the theatrical promoters Underbelly, erect a temporary stage over the entire quad. It is still possible to see a small portion of the art piece near the aforementioned door.
The area is popular with skateboarders during the early evenings and on weekends. Use caution and common sense when seeking out the trail. The best time to see the piece uninterrupted is in the early morning hours.