The largest art installation in Scotland, The Kelpies, has opened to the public. The 300 tonne, 98ft (30m) metal sculptures, depicting two enormous horses heads were created by the Glasgow artist Andy Scott and are situated in Helix Park, Falkirk. Dubbed the Horses of the North, The Kelpies were officially inaugurated on the 17th & 18th of April. A dramatic pyrotechnic display orchestrated by world renowned French events company Groupe F saw the Kelpies encircled by flames and animated by projections. The event was skilfully co-ordinated by UZ Events and was attended by tens of thousands of spectators.
The title and theme of The Kelpies as mystical water-borne equine creatures was inherited at the outset of the project, almost eight years ago. Since then it has evolved dramatically and in the process the ethos and function has shifted from the original concept. Falkirk was my father’s home town and that inherited link to the town has been one of my driving inspirations. A sense of deep personal legacy has informed my thinking from the outset, with old family connections anchoring me to the project. As an artist I frequently tackle the theme of equine sculpture in my practice. My horse based works are always rooted in a socio-historical relevance or respond to a brief from the client. In almost every project they are related to the site, the audience, history or a combination of themes.
The materials of the sculptures are deliberately those of Scotland’s former industrial heartland, steel construction on an architectural scale: equitecture The towering horse heads have an industrial aesthetic with structural columns and beams visible through the riveted laser cut steel plates of the skin, the manes rendered as geometric overlapping slabs of steel. The entire structures are illuminated inside and out to create a stunning spectacle in hours of darkness. They elevate Falkirk and Grangemouth to national and international prominence and bring with them a sense of pride and ownership, having achieved global media coverage. As a canal structure they partner the iconic Falkirk Wheel, and echo its grandeur. They stand as a testament to the achievements of the past, a paean to artisanship and engineering and a declaration of intent for the future of Scotland.