My regular trips to Falkirk have been brightened in recent months by the appearance of the Kelpies at The Helix. Just as you approach the Grangemouth junction on the M9 you were able to see these magnificent beasts standing proud at the edge of the canal.
A couple of weeks ago, however, I noticed that they were no longer there and everyone I asked in the Falkirk/Grangemouth area had no idea where they’d gone – or why they’d been moved! If you go onto the Helix website they are still maintaining that “Although the equine sculptures won’t appear on site until the second half of 2012, we’ll be following them on every stage of their journey from final engineering design through to construction and installation.”
So what was it I was seeing before then … Scotch mist????!!!!
Today, however, the mystery has been solved – hurrah!!! A friend tweeted that she’d seen them at Edinburgh Airport and, sure enough, there they are – apparently having been given a new temporary home.
The Airport is currently looking at options for a sculpture on the welcome roundabout – something that will inspire those arriving in the city and give a memorable farewell for those departing. The Kelpies give an idea of what a sculpture could look like and the impact it will have on the airport. Staff are keen to get feedback from passengers before they finalise the potential design for a permanent sculpture.
For the non-Celts reading this, a kelpie is a supernatural water horse from Celtic folklore that is believed to haunt the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland It was believed to have the strength of ten horses and the endurance of many more.
I had to find out more and so imagine my surprise when I found out that the full scale versions when they do get their permanent resting place at the Helix will stand 10 storeys high, a third taller than the Angel of the North, weigh 400 tonnes and be more than just decorative!
They will create one of the most dramatic gateways through which to enter Britain: two vast equine heads, centrepiece of this £49m eco-park at Grangemouth, are to guard the entrance to a canal link connecting the Firth of Forth with the Clyde in Glasgow.
But unlike Antony Gormley’s sculpture outside Gateshead, the Kelpies will be functional as well as aesthetic, operating the first lock on the east end of the Forth-Clyde canal near Falkirk. The heads will slowly rock forward and back to push water into the lock and raise boats into the canal.
“When you sail in from Europe or elsewhere in Britain, the first thing you will see will be these colossal horses’ heads welcoming you to Scotland,” the sculptor Andy Scott said. “All the industries along the canal would’ve used horses, and all the farms along the canal would’ve used horses,” he said. “It’s a theme which keeps coming back. I just enjoy playing with the reinterpretation of an enduring theme.”
They will be a magnificent sight I am sure and I’m looking forward to seeing what theses beauties look like some time next year!