When art meets acceleration: Andy Scott sculpture smashed by boy racer | Caledonian Mercury: Scottish news, stories and intelligent analysis from Scotland’s first truly online newspaper.
Various of the statues and public sculptures to be found in central Scotland have suffered mishaps in recent years. There was, for instance, the “Braveheart” statue of William Wallace, which until 2009 stood beside the Wallace Monument visitor centre. Made by Brechin-based sculptor Tom Church and installed in 1997, this was much mocked due to its likeness to Mel Gibson (but liked by the numerous tourists who photographed each other in front of it) and was repeatedly vandalised.
There were hammer attacks, chisel attacks and at least one paint-throwing incident, so that the beleaguered block of sandstone ended up being locked inside a metal cage each night. This was a considerable irony, given that it carried the word “FREEDOM” across its base.
Then there was – and thankfully still is – the less well known, but much better liked, aeroplane-on-a-cloud sculpture alongside Causewayhead roundabout on the A9 at the northern edge of Stirling (just a few minutes’ walk from the Wallace Monument). Made by Cliff Bowen and set on a stone plinth, this commemorates the Barnwell brothers, Harold and Frank, who made the first powered flight in Scottish airspace, in July 1909.
The Barnwells’ workshop was at Sheriffmuirlands, close to where Bowen’s commemoration stands – but the sculpture has had to be removed and repaired at least twice since being installed in 2005, after seemingly random outbreaks of idiocy from passers-by.
And now, just three-and-a-half miles further east, there has been something unusually stupid and spectacular. Asreported elsewhere, a four-metre-high sculpture on the B9140 Muirside roundabout just north of Tullibody has been flattened by a motorist. It happened soon after 9pm last Saturday, when a stolen Citroën Xsara coming from the Glenochil side took the direttissima across the roundabout.
Details will doubtless emerge over time – a 21-year-old man has been arrested and remanded in custody – but a site visit two days after the incident suggested that the car must have been going at high speed. The driver was lucky to escape without serious injury – which is more than can be said for the welded steel sculpture, known variously as Stride and the Man in Motion.
A road sign on the central reservation was destroyed, then the car went straight through the shrubby hedge on the eastern edge of the roundabout, clattered into – and demolished – Stride, before ploughing on through the hedge at the far side.
Stride was a popular and elegant metal-latticework adornment to what would otherwise be just a plain and ordinary road junction. It had stood on the roundabout since early in 2008, one of five pieces of transport-infrastructure art commissioned by Clackmannanshire Council and created by Andy Scott. The Maryhill-based figurative sculptor is also well known for his Heavy Horse, beside the M8 near Baillieston, and Arria, beside the A80 near Cumbernauld.
“Gutted, disappointed, saddened, angry … pretty much what you’d expect,” said Scott yesterday when asked for his thoughts on the Tullibody smash. “Would be good to get this much coverage for our many successes – same time as this bozo destroyed a much-loved local landmark we were installing a very successful piece in London. It depresses me that the Scottish media seem to like to make more of this unfortunate event than positive stories. At least the miscreant has been apprehended by the local constabulary.”
So what happens now – will Stride be repaired and restored? Its lower limbs have been badly mangled, but the upper part looks to have survived relatively unscathed. “I presume I will be asked to salvage and repair,” said Scott, who indicated that the initial decisions rest with the council. “As for timescale for replacement, that would be several months away if they choose to have him rebuilt ‘bionic man’ style.”
In the meantime, however, Scott has other work to complete. His latest piece is “a Cob horse, five metres tall on a roundabout in Bexley/Belvedere in east London”. He will be hoping that this doesn’t get taken out by another boy racer, or by the number 401 bus.