[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 06:15 GMT 07:15 UK
'Spirit of Scotland' unleashed
By Mike Lloyd
For BBC News Online Scotland

Billed as the most striking example of public art for decades, sculptor Richard Price's Spirit of Scotland has finally taken shape in Ayrshire's Irvine Valley.

The new Wallace sculpture
The sculpture shows an outline of Wallace
Approaching the monument, it seems like William Wallace has smashed through the steel, leaving the metal cut to his warrior form.

An etched inscription on the five metre high structure reads: "Thou saw'st the strong arm of a Wallace raised to stem the tide of alien tyranny."

Mr Price, who has been working on the project since the idea was mooted nearly 7 years ago, said: "The piece has turned out so much better than I dared to hope."

He admits much public art is doomed to suffer derision and even hostility - sometimes justifiably.

"I drive past a metal tree in the middle of a roundabout and I ask myself, why sculpt that when you could plant a tree? Sometimes I despair of the things that are made," he added.

Telling tales

But so far his own sculpture, sited on Loudounhill near Kilmarnock where Wallace won a famous battle in 1297, has attracted only praise.

A detail of the new Wallace sculpture
A detail of the new Wallace sculpture
"It is a symbol of the regeneration of this area and it has given locals something to be proud of," affirmed Morag McConnell, who chairs the Irvine Valley Regeneration Partnership.

The steel structure is covered in hand forged surface decorations, each telling an aspect of Wallace's tale.

"Battles against tyranny evoke a powerful response, whether they be current or historic," Price explained.

But the cut-out shape is also designed for the public to look through, to the natural landscape beyond.

"When I saw it first on site, I sat for the best part of three hours using it as a viewfinder," Price said.

The sculptor has spent several days on site, making final adjustments. It has been time enough to gather opinions, from walkers and climbers who use the local pathways.

Taken to heart

Price is pleased. "Reaction has been very positive, thank god no-one came up to me and told me 'that's a disaster'!" he said.

The new Wallace sculpture
When I saw it first on site, I sat for the best part of three hours using it as a viewfinder
Richard Price
Money has come from varied sources and prime movers have been East Ayrshire Woodlands and East Ayrshire Council.

Bruce Davidson of East Ayrshire Woodlands believes the sculpture encourages recreational use of the countryside.

Mr Davidson said: "It is a draw and it connects us to the locality, but more than that, we supported it because it is a project which springs from the local community."

Meanwhile, Mr Price said he had learned by his experience, especially the skills required to make medieval armaments like Wallace's sword.

"It was good fun - I smelled of sulphur for days afterwards!"

The official unveiling of the sculpture will be on 26 September when special events are planned.

Contact East Ayrshire Council for details.

'Braveheart' portrait fails to sell
14 Apr 03  |  Scotland
Display marks Braveheart efforts
21 Jun 04  |  Scotland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific