Kelpies sculptor submits plans for five-metre-tall bear statue

Andy Scott has designed a bear sculpture to symbolise John Muir. Picture: Andy Scott
Andy Scott has designed a bear sculpture to symbolise John Muir. Picture: Andy Scott
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THE Scots artist who wowed the world with The Kelpies is now planning to erect a statue of a five-metre high bear.

Sculptor Andy Scott has submitted plans to East Lothian Council to build the giant structure off the A1 near Dunbar.

The bear statue will be five metres tall. Picture: Andy Scott

The bear statue will be five metres tall. Picture: Andy Scott

Designs show that the bear will be made of welded steel and be viewable from the railway and A1 road entering the town.

A bear has been chosen to symbolise John Muir, who was the forefather to America’s national parks, but was born in Dunbar in 1838.

Muir, known as John of the Mountains, emigrated from Scotland in 1849, and is famous for petitioning the US Congress for the National Park bill, establishing Yosemite National Park.

Talking about Scott, a design document submitted to East Lothian Council said: “His distinctive hand-crafted figurative sculptures combine traditional dexterity with contemporary fabrication techniques, and range in scale from 3 to 30 metres in height.

“He works in steel and bronze, with his inspiration firmly rooted in the figurative genre.”

Speaking about why the bear was chosen, it added: “The bear symbolises Dunbar’s most famous son, the environmentalist and forefather of the United States’ national parks, John Muir.”

It is intended that the artwork will be fully galvanised to protect against the elements and will be welded to a steel base plate, which in turn will be bolted to a concrete foundation slab and fixed via eight resin anchors.

Mr Scott said: “The starting point for the project was John Muir and his legacy, and he is of course most known for the national parks.

“I wanted to pay tribute to him without building a traditional bronze statue, and I was really pleased that when I suggested this to the client they accepted it, and now I’m cracking on with things. It will be a great opportunity to create an artwork for an imposing location and I hope it’ll look incredible when it’s done.”

Although the Kelpies cost £5 million, Mr Scott said that this project would cost significantly less, but was a private venture between himself and Hallhill Developments Ltd rather than being funded by public money.

Stephen Bunyan, chairman of the town’s community council said: “It was something that we did not expect or need but once the location was planned we were reasonably happy.

“There is no doubt these statues, whatever you think of them, interest people.”

An East Lothian Council spokeswoman added: “The council’s planners will provide a recommendation in due course.”

The Kelpies, 30-metre-high horse-head sculptures in Falkirk, were completed in 2013. They were applauded by critics, winning a Saltire Award for Civil Engineering, UK Structural Steel Award and National Landmark of the Year by BBC.

They were also recognised as a “National Treasure” by the UK National Lottery.

newsen@edinburghnews.com