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Watch: William Tucker’s monumental sculpture comes together

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Man working on large sculpture of dancer's torso and thighs

Only from 100 yards away can William Tucker see his sculpture ‘Dancer after Degas II’ as he first conceived it — such is the size of the artist’s largest work to date.

Capturing the intuitive grace of a dancer in motion, Tucker and his team have worked for months to distil a spinning torso into motionless bronze. The work is inspired by the studies of Impressionist painter Edgar Degas, and has an uncanny lightness to it, despite being four metres high.

‘Dancer after Degas II’ will be the centrepiece of Edinburgh Park’s new civic square. As we prepare to install it, this behind-the-scenes film documents its journey from computer model to monumental statue.

The first step was to scale the model up to an eight-foot plaster prototype, before creating the even larger final mould, and maintaining the rawness of the surface at each stage was essential. “I wanted to keep them as directly handled and shaped with my own hands as possible,” he explains in the film, “Very physical and very direct and not like an enlargement.” It was important to be “faithful to the feeling of the surface being handled”. Chisels, an ax and a saw were all used to hack away at the plaster in search of the texture he demanded.

Sculpture being lifted by winch in warehouse

Watching his team cast and then weld together these vast segments is jaw-dropping and even a little frightening — art as engineering, with metal heated to 1,000 degrees. As Tucker puts it, “Stages that I did very intuitively are now being done with such care and precision.”

‘Dancer after Degas II’ will join work by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi and Bryan Kneale at Edinburgh Park. Tucker’s original commission is part of a unique sculpture trail that aims to attract sculpture-lovers from across the country to experience world-class art. Our event suite in particular will make an unmissable artistic statement; ‘Mach1’ by David Mach is a remarkable installation that’s part building and part sculpture, and incorporates a viewing platform from which you can see the whole of Edinburgh Park. Made from 36 shipping containers, it will have the appearance of a pile of blocks scattered by a giant hand yet also be the place for a latte.

Edinburgh Park is more than a new district for the city; it will also add a new piece to the capital’s cultural patchwork. Public art is intrinsic to our vision for this quarter, and we’re offering its urban landscape to artists and performers as a canvas. ‘Dancer after Degas II’ is a powerful statement of intent about what this community will look like: a place where creativity and spontaneity can thrive.

William Tucker at work on the surface of the sculpture

William Tucker at work on the surface