Steel bear built by Kelpies sculptor to honour John Muir in Dunbar

A symbol of the travels through the far-off wilderness of America's west by one of East Lothian's most famous sons will now be the form of a 15ft tall metal bear.

The steel bear sculpture is by Andy Scott, the man behind the Kelpies and other well-loved sculptures.
The steel bear sculpture is by Andy Scott, the man behind the Kelpies and other well-loved sculptures.

John Muir who was born in Dunbar in 1838, played a key role in the development of America’s national parks.

He emigrated from Scotland in 1849 and is famous for petitioning the US Congress for the National Park bill, establishing Yosemite National Park.

And now, Andy Scott, famed for the 90ft high Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk, will create a 16ft high steel bear at the new Halhill development in Dunbar.

He said: “It is fantastic that we have now been given the green light to create this 
sculpture in memory of such an influential character as John Muir, especially given today’s environmental climate.

“His role in creating national parks is well known in the United States, but sadly not so well known here and this bear sculpture will provide an opportunity to enlighten people about the man and his work.

“It is a symbol of the wilderness John Muir was such a passionate advocate of and is testament to his incredible desire to protect the natural environment.”

The location was chosen as it forms the primary gateway into the town and is visible from the railway line, with plans to unveil the sculpture next spring.

The sculpture will be made of welded steel and will be fabricated from steel plates of various thicknesses, heavy at the bottom and lighter towards the top, giving the structure strength.


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It is hoped the public art, which visitors will be able to access it via a walkway, will act as a welcoming icon to Dunbar.

The bear’s construction is now in progress after approval from Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government and forms part of the mixed-use Hallhill Development, which has delivered around 1,000 houses since 1999, with approximately 300 currently under development.

Cabinet spokesman for environment and Dunbar councillor Norman Hampshire, said: “We are thrilled to mark Dunbar’s new gateway with a sculpture by one of Scotland’s most famous sculptors, Andy Scott.

“The bear is truly symbolic of Dunbar’s rich history, symbolizing its most famous son, John Muir, and will fast become a well-loved local landmark like his other iconic sculptures.”


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Hallhill Developments’s Ken Ross added: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government has approved this fantastic piece of public art and are actively engaged with Andy to get the bear erected in Dunbar in spring 2019.

“The Hallhill development has brought tremendous benefits to the area, including new much-needed homes and commercial and retail opportunities.

“This piece of art will not only contribute to the emerging identity of Dunbar’s new gateway, but has the potential to draw people into the area to find out more about John Muir.”