A sprinkling of precious metal embedded in paving stones is adding an artistic flourish to a newly refurbished city square.

The new public artwork – a meandering trail of thousands of bronze drips – has been unveiled in Edinburgh’s Bristo Square to mark the area’s redevelopment.

Commissioned by the University of Edinburgh, the 1600 bronze pegs create a series of small circles that stretches 68 metres from McEwan Hall’s original entrance across the Square.

The Next Big Thing… is a Series of Little Things by artist Susan Collis is part of the major redevelopment of the hall and the square.

The drips suggest that the trail has been created by someone walking across the square while carrying a leaky vessel.

Designed to be unobtrusive, the constant friction of people walking over the work will polish the bronze over time.

The Next Big Thing… is Collis’ first public art commission. She is known for her detailed sculptural works that combine everyday objects and materials with meticulously applied precious stones, metals or fine embroidery.

Her work is intended to make the public reconsider items that on first viewing might appear ordinary or accidental.

The Bristo Square installation is similar to her work in London’s Groucho Club, with mother of pearl drips embedded in the wooden floor.

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The Edinburgh commission is the result of a limited competition for a public artwork for the Square.

Nominated artists were invited to submit proposals for work that responded to the space, the creative and inspiring context of the University and the institution’s relationship with the city.

The selection committee featured representatives from Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh Art Festival.

The work was installed by Powderhall Bronze Foundry over three weeks.

Susan Collis said: “I was delighted to be chosen to create a public artwork for Bristo 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.”

Neil Lebeter, University of Edinburgh Art Collections Curator, said: “This is a highly significant commission for the University that adds to the uniqueness of our campus. The work will encourage curiosity and engagement with our public spaces and help to further promote the University as a place for everyone.”