The Scotsman Steps are an important part of Edinburgh’s cityscape, they link the Old and New Towns and have historically been considered as a road. Before restoration by Edinburgh World Heritage and Edinburgh City Council, they were extremely dilapidated, and vulnerable to misuse.
The Fruitmarket Gallery suggested commissioning a public artwork for the Steps as part of the renovation, to help change the public perception of them, and to fulfill the Gallery’s mission to make contemporary art freely accessible. Martin Creed, with his smart response to public space, his ability to engage with materials and their surroundings, and his understanding of the creative possibilities embedded in the act of going up and down steps, seemed an obvious choice for the commission. Using 104 different marbles Creed describes the work as a microcosm of the whole world – stepping on the different marble steps is like walking through the world.