Neighbours hail artist’s tribute to executed villagers

Carol Irvine and grandaughter McKenzie Ritchie, two, with Andy Scott's sculpture at Athena Grange
Carol Irvine and grandaughter McKenzie Ritchie, two, with Andy Scott's sculpture at Athena Grange
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HIS creations include the much-admired Heavy Horse on the M8, as well as two dazzling equine sculptures known as The Kelpies.

Now the first permanent work by sculptor Andy Scott to feature in the east of the country has been unveiled – on a housing estate in Prestonpans.

The unnamed piece of public art was designed to commemorate 81 residents of the town who were executed for witchcraft in the 16th century, though it represents “a proud and dignified woman” rather than a victim.

Carol Irvine, a retired administrator who lives in Dolphingstone Way, overlooking the sculpture, said: “I think it’s lovely. It just makes it a bit different when you come into our street to see a sculpture there. It’s very nice with the sun on it, and of course it goes right through it as well.”

Mr Scott, who is based in Glasgow, was commissioned to create the three-metre high figure as a centrepiece for the Athena Grange development three years ago.

His finished woman is clothed in costume of the period and reading from a book, all made of steel leaves similar.

It was also designed to tie in with the name of the development, which incorporates elements of the Greek goddess Athena – also the name of the last “witch” to be put to death.

Mr Scott said: “I did a bit of historic research on Prestonpans and found a number of ladies – and men as it turned out – were unfortunately accused of witchcraft and met a rather grisly end. I thought it would be nice to give them a dignified commemoration.

“Once I got started on it I thought it would be more appropriate to render it in a contemporary way and give them an element of dignity.

“I went off in another direction too, in that the developer decided to go with Athena Grove, and as Athena was the goddess of wisdom I thought it tied in nicely as well.

“I hope that even if people don’t pick up on things I invested in the sculptures, they’ll be able to appreciate a beautifully-made object.”

The sculpture was commissioned by Stewart Milne Homes as part of a bid to increase the amount of public art in Prestonpans.

Marlyn Boal, the company’s sales director for central Scotland, said the sculpture created a “stunning entrance to the development” and “really brings the space to life”.

She added: “We have always been keen to tie the new area with the town’s deep-rooted heritage. This iconic monument not only provides a beautiful spectacle at the heart of the development, but a firm link with its location.

“The piece may not yet be named, but she has already inspired Athena Grange residents and the Prestonpans community to become quite a talking point.”

Mr Scott is renowned for his sculptures, including the Heavy Horse on the M8 and The Kelpies, a work still in progress.

Funds are currently being raised to create a 30-metre high version of The Kelpies – two horses’ heads – to sit by the Forth and Clyde Canal. At present, two three-metre models of the design exist, one at the eventual site in Falkirk and the other temporarily on the roundabout at Edinburgh Airport.