I find roadside sculptures fascinating. Huge, silent; set apart from, yet daily witnessing the scurryings and scuttlings of overwrought motorists and commuters on the road below with cathedral calm and a dignity that can only have been put there by the sculptor, but seem to eminate from the sculptures themselves.
The Kelpies dominate the skyline for miles around, and are set to become as synonymous with Central Scotland as the breathtaking Angel of the North is to Tyneside. Not everyone loves them, finding them simplistic and kitscht (see this piece for a bit of art snobbery) but I love them (and I hate snobbery, in art as in all other things).
Kelpies are creatures of Scottish folkore; shape shifters, water spirits that supposedly took delight in enchanting, ensnaring, and ultimately drowning unwary travellers. Andy Scott's towering interpretation is realised in hundreds of tons of steel, which gleams and shimmers during the day, reflecting the light, and at night the Kelpies are lit from within, beguiling passing travellers, but hopefully without the fatal consequences of legend.
They are part of a bigger development , The Helix, set in previously underused land between Falkirk and Grangemouth,which will link canals, communities, walkways, cycle paths and eco parks within the Falkirk/Grangemouth area of central Scotland. Very much a work in progress, the visitor centre is still under construction, as is the play area, cafe and other familiar components of the much loved Great British Family Day Out.
Visiting the Helix so early in its life was an endearing experience; it has the optimistic feel of a friend who has just moved house, ushering you in with a half embarrassed laugh; packing boxes overflowing, paintings stacked against the wall, but the kettle and radio on, the sound of children racketing about in empty rooms upstairs, everyone knowing that great things will happen here.
Derek and I loved it. Here we are, reading Jim Carruth's poem, which is carved in stone just beside the water. Next time we'll take the boys too.