Cecil Balmond star to mark Scotland-England border


Author Ian Rankin on what he makes of the winning star design

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A giant star has been selected as the winning design for a landmark sculpture on the Scotland-England border.

Cecil Balmond's Star of Caledonia was chosen by the judges for the Border Crossing project at Gretna.

Panelist and Creative Scotland chief executive Andrew Dixon said the design was "rooted in Scotland's scientific contribution to the world".

The idea will now be developed throughout the summer before a planning application is submitted.

Three international contenders had made it to the final stage of the selection process.

Designer Cecil Balmond, American artist Ned Kahn and Chris Wilkinson, of Wilkinson Eyre Architects, were in the running for the project.

Start Quote

Instead of marking this with motorway signs we are using a landform and sculpture that pulls together the adjacent site, the distant hills and the Solway”

End Quote Charles Jencks Creative director

The winner was selected by a panel of judges for the Gretna Landmark Trust.

Mr Dixon said: "The project will provide millions of future visitors with an iconic welcome and an ever-changing contemporary symbol of a confident, creative Scotland."

The project - entitled the Great Unknown - is being developed and produced by Wide Open (South Scotland) Ltd for The Gretna Landmark Trust.

Sri Lanka-born Mr Balmond's previous works include the Arcelor Mittal Orbit tower, the UK's largest public art sculpture, which was designed in collaboration with Anish Kapoor for London 2012.

His latest design is the result of a "fully integrated collaborative effort" with renowned landscape artist Charles Jencks.

"Crossing the border to Scotland, across the River Sark, is now a passage obscured under a bridge by cars travelling at speed," said Mr Jencks.

"Instead of marking this with motorway signs we are using a landform and sculpture that pulls together the adjacent site, the distant hills and the Solway.

"Nestled into the curving mound and springing from it is Cecil Balmond's whirling creation."

He described it as a "scintillating piece of calligraphy seen against the sky" which could have a variety of meanings like a starburst, energy, a thistle or St Andrew's Cross.

"It all depends from where you see it in the landscape," he said.

"These meanings emerge dramatically as you walk the site, but they are also taken up by the landform and embedded in its curves."

'Power of invention'

Mr Balmond said he wanted to capture the "powerful energy, scientific heritage and magnetic pull of Scotland" - particularly the work of James Clerk Maxwell.

"The Star of Caledonia is a welcome; its kinetic form and light paths a constant trace of Scotland's power of invention," said Mr Balmond.

"And I am delighted to be collaborating with Charles Jencks to create an integrated idea of this concept in both landscape and form."

The flagship landmark will have a potential audience of 10 million people crossing the Scotland-England border at Gretna every year.

It is hoped the design can be put in place in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Don`t agree with spending that sort of wedge. I`m Scottish and was wondering why spend it on one road at the border regardless of how busy it is. Also with all the savings that`s to be made and prices going up all the time why can this be correct thing to do?
    If the public have to have it, why couldn`t the public have the vote of which one they`d want to see?
    Again being dictated to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Art, don't make me laugh. An eight-year-old with a sheet of paper and a crayon could have come up with this. It's an ugly monstrosity. If we had to waste a couple of million quid on a border sculpture (why do we need one all of a sudden?) surely we could have come up with something better than this, something that represents our shared heritage, not a meaningless pile of junk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Why is art always considered the lowest priority? I know there are other improtant areas where funding is woefully short, but there always will be. If we spent on artistic endeavours only when everything else was fully funded, what a dull and grey world we would live in!

    I think it's an inspiring piece - please can we have one at all the other border crossings too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Being a local i should have though a statue of a Border Reiver would have been much better - dipicting both sides of the border and bringing a sense of history to the place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    I think the border should be marked using the international language of expressive dance


Comments 5 of 122


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