Scotland recently acquired a pair of metal equine sculptures. It’s 30-meter high, became the largest public art in Scotland, and one of the largest of its kind in the world. It’s The Kelpies, stands in the Helix Environmental Regeneration Scheme on the Forth and Clyde Canal near Falkirk on Central Scotland. It was designed and constructed by sculptor Andy Scott, representing horse’s role in industry and agriculture as well as the obvious association with the canals as tow horses. It opened to the public in April 2014, almost eight years after the idea first came.
The starting point of this art work was mythical water horses, water kelpie, which is known to inhabit the lochs and pools of Scotland. The name was chosen because it symbolize the horses’s strength and endurance, a monument to Scotland’s horse-powered industrial heritage. In Scotland, almost every sizable body of water has an associated kelpie story, but the most famous is that of Loch Ness, the mysterious creature affectionately named as Nessie. Kelpies have the ability to transform themselves into non-equine forms and can take on the outward appearance of human figures. They disguise with water weeds in their hair. They are mostly male in their human form, but there are few stories describing the feature in female form.
Similar to when I visited the Eiffel Tower of Paris, I thought how a metal structure could be this beautiful. It’s just a mere collection of metal beams and plates, but it is one of the most spectacular landmarks. The Kelpies were made with hundreds of small cut stainless steel plates as the surface, and mounted on to an internal structural steel skeleton. It was the moment when my inner-engineer self was oozing out. It’s a joy to witness that engineering can create something so spectacular and artistic.
The Kelpies is about 45 minutes away from Edinburgh.
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