The Kelpies’ cousin has slithered into Glasgow, marking a major milestone in Scottish Canals’ Stockingfield Bridge community artwork project.
The Beithir, a 121-metre mythical serpent in Scottish folklore, will form the centrepiece of the community artwork being installed on the site of the new active travel bridge in North Glasgow.
The headpiece, which stretches three metres wide, by two metres high, and four metres long, was cut into nine pieces, before it could be transported from its sculpture studios in Maryhill to the city’s bridge.
It will now be connected to the body, which has been formed using reclaimed material from the site and will be covered in mesh and coated in ferro cement with a mosaic finish.
The Beithir was designed by Stockingfield Bridge’s artist curator Nichol Wheatley, who will work with Make it Glasgow, a community interest company, to complete the project which is expected to take up to five years.
They will work in collaboration with the local communities and beyond to make thousands of tiles required to cover the sculpture.
Nichol explained: “I’m deeply honoured to be the artist for the Beithir. I’ve worked in and around Maryhill over the last 25 years and I’m delighted to be making the Kelpies’ cousin at Stockingfield Bridge.
“The bridge, which crosses the Forth & Clyde Canal now links the communities Maryhill, Gilshochill and Ruchill in the city for the first time since the waterway opened in 1790, the artwork will now tie those communities together.
“Ultimately this piece will be made by the three communities around the new bridge. The body has been formed from earth that would have gone to landfill, the head has been made by a local company - Scott Associates - in Maryhill, and the decoration of the body, which will take five years, will be done by the three communities that were divided until the new bridge arrived.
“The entire sculpture will be covered by mosaic and this will be delivered by myself and Ruth Impey and Louise Nolan of Make it Glasgow a local community interest company.”
The Lord Provost of Glasgow Jacqueline McLaren was today, (Wednesday, September 13) invited to fix the first tile on the Beithir’s head, which will form The City Crest.
The Lord Provost said: “I’m so excited about the Stockingfield Bridge and the tangible improvements it has brought to the city connecting our people and our communities. This imaginative art-work and the community involvement it’s inspired has made this a truly collective project.
“It’s fantastic to be fixing the first tile of the serpent’s head and I’m looking forward to its completion as the Beithir makes its dramatic appearance from the water on what promises to be a landmark structure and a real crowd pleaser. Congratulations to everyone involved.”
The £14m active travel bridge, which was officially opened last December, connects Ruchill, Maryhill and Gilshochill over the Forth & Clyde Canal for the first time since 1790.
The development of the foot and cycle bridge represents significant travel improvements for those communities throughout Glasgow.
Eight community artwork projects are currently being installed around the site, bringing life to the public space. Each project has a strong local connection having been designed with input from local residents.
Scottish Canals Chief Executive John Paterson said: "The Beithir Is going to be a monumental piece of artwork and we can't wait to see how the community help bring this to life. Stockingfield Bridge Is quickly becoming a destination in its own right and I would encourage anyone who hasn't already paid It a visit to come and see the amazing pieces of community artwork already on show."
Sustrans Scotland Director Karen McGregor said: “At Stockingfield Bridge, we wanted to help create a space that not only serves as an essential connection for walking, wheeling, and cycling but also somewhere people could enjoy and spend time socialising. The breath taking artworks and landscaping on display are truly a testament to this approach and couldn’t have been delivered without the hard work and passion of the local community. Going forward, we’re excited to see how the Beithir will take shape and become an iconic centrepiece on the site for many years to come.”
The national infrastructure project and associated artworks have been funded by the Scottish Government through Places for Everyone, an active travel infrastructure fund administered by Sustrans Scotland, Glasgow City Council’s Vacant Derelict Land Fund and SCAPE.