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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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£4.8m Star of Caledonia artwork to be unveiled - in miniature

Work to create a £4.8 million artistic landmark is poised to take a significant step forward.

Star of Caledonia graphic
The Star of Caledonia planned for the border

Talks are on-going to confirm how the 40m-high sculpture will be paid for.

The Star of Caledonia is intended to become the region’s equivalent to Gateshead’s Angel of the North and become a major draw for tourists.

And people will be able to get a clearer vision of how it will look when a miniature model of the intended landmark is unveiled tonight.

Efforts to turn the idea of having an artistic attraction on England-Scotland border into reality have already been more than a decade in the making and are at a critical stage.

Project director Dr Jan Hogarth said: “The next couple of months are going to be crucial. We have been talking to government and various other people about funding. There are a lot of conversations going on behind closed doors.

“We should find out the outcome of these by the end of October.”

The artwork, to be sited on the Scottish side of the Border, off the M74 at Gretna, has been designed by artist Cecil Balmond and eminent Dumfriesshire land artist Charles Jencks.

Planning permission for the sculpture, the idea of which was born out of suggestions to regenerate the border area in the wake of the devastating 2001 foot and mouth crisis, was granted in February.

Efforts to finance the project, which already has £1m cash promised from Creative Scotland, have since then picked up a pace.

Interest in how it will look is also growing.

The model of the star, created by Balmond Studios, will be on show in Gretna Green this weekend as part of the 2013 Environmental Arts Festival Scotland.

It is hoped its unveiling will further add to excitement surrounding the project.

“What we’re finding is that the images we have of the star make it hard for people to imagine what it’s going to look like from more than one angle,” Dr Hogarth added.

“The model’s design is very much the same as the images that have gone out, but should make it easier for people to visualise.”

Dr Hogarth is director of Wide Open, the arts group managing the star scheme for the Gretna Landmark Trust, chaired by prominent border businessman Alasdair Houston.

As well as becoming a symbol of national identity, she remains optimistic that the star could become a major catalyst for drawing more visitors to the Gretna – where tourism is already one of the key cash drivers and a major employer – and wider border area, including north Cumbria.

“What started off as a public art project has become more of a landmark,” she said. “It really has grown – not just in physical size, but the idea of getting people inspired by the creative energy and innovation of the people in the borderlands and Scotland.

“One of the great Scottish scientists, James Clerk Maxwell – who many people say was up there with Einstein – came from Dumfries and Galloway. The artwork is inspired by work he did around energy.”

Talks are underway with Glasgow Science Centre about an education project about the scientist.

The Star of Caledonia exhibition runs in Stormont Hall, Gretna Green today, tomorrow and Sunday.

Have your say

It is a shame it will "light up the night sky" - when Dumfries & Galloway are trying to promote the county as a "dark sky" !!

Will it be solar powered ??

Just hope this does not increase bad driving because of drivers being distracted by looking at it (as a lot do with those wind turbines that are in sight of roads!)

Posted by MaryAnn on 21 March 2014 at 10:01

If this project is being financed by the Scottish Government, using Scots Tax Payers money, then it's purely a matter for the Scots people to justify this type of Public Purse expenditure?

Posted by Sheila S . on 21 February 2014 at 12:13

View all 7 comments on this article

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