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New Glenrothes town walk celebrates legacy of outstanding public art

29 November 2011

People are being encouraged to find out more about Scotland’s post war heritage in a new town trail being launched today.

The unique public art works at Glenrothes are being celebrated in a new town walk devised by Historic Scotland and hosted on the agency’s website along with a free downloadable booklet which will allow people to download a video describing the sculptures.

Begun in the mid 1960s, the public art proved so successful that the Glenrothes Development Corporation decided to employ a town artist – the first in the UK. This pioneering approach aroused widespread interest at home and abroad, and the artists were subsequently invited to take the Glenrothes message to countries including the USA, Japan and Australia.

The significance of the sculptures is reflected in a number recently receiving listed status.

The Town Art Walk is an innovative project for Historic Scotland, and aims to embrace the remarkable collection of more than 140 art works which define the identity of the town. The concept behind the new walk is to encourage both locals and visitors to visit the sculptures and find out more about their development and significance.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “The town art in Glenrothes is hugely significant, both in a Scottish and in an international context in helping to create the idea of art being a key factor in creating a sense of place.

“This is a fantastic project which allows people to explore the pioneering role of Glenrothes in a fun, interactive way.

“Some of these artworks were recently listed and I’d encourage as many people as possible to take the time to explore the artworks through the trail, which tells the story of a fascinating piece of our post war heritage.”

The new trail and booklet was launched at one of the sculptures- ‘The Audience’ by Tricia Marwick, MSP, the artist, Malcolm Robertson and children from Newcastle Primary School, whose predecessors took part in the original ‘audience’ sculpture.

Local MSP and Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Tricia Marwick said: “I am delighted that Historic Scotland is continuing to highlight the wonderful town art we have in Glenrothes.

“The ‘Town Art Walk’ is an exciting project which will encourage more people to visit our town art. This online initiative will feature a downloadable booklet, which celebrates our town art and highlights the exciting sculptures we have in Glenrothes.

“Ever since I launched my Glenrothes town art campaign, the feedback I have had from so many town residents has been overwhelming. Our town art makes Glenrothes the place it is today and I am so pleased that Historic Scotland is ensuring it is getting the recognition it truly deserves.”

The collection of artwork at Glenrothes ranges from naturalistic figures, such as “The Working Men” by Malcolm Robertson, to animal sculptures including “Feeding Hippos”, by Stanley Bonnar, and historically-inspired works such as “Henge” by David Harding, a take on the Neolithic stone circle found at nearby Balbirnie which uses concrete panels decorated with symbols and quotations. The story of these and more will appear in the new booklet and digital app.

Historic Scotland, Head of Listing and Designed Landscapes Elizabeth McCrone said: “The international reputation of the pioneering approach to town art in Glenrothes, and the recent listed status of four of the sculptures, shows how important art can be in defining a community’s character.

“The works range from figurative to abstract, from humorous to contemplative, often using recurring themes and concepts. The Town Art Walk we’re launching today recognises this valuable resource, and allows the various elements to be understood together and appreciated as a collective whole.”

Elizabeth added; “It isn’t elitist, it makes you smile. This is art for everyone, and it’s interactive and distinctive.”

The Walk’s dedicated webpage,, features three tabs, “The Story”, “Competition” and “Video”, plus a map with five separate routes, and free downloadable booklet, which is comprehensively illustrated colour photos.

To celebrate the new trail and booklet, Historic Scotland is launching a  “My Place” photo competition which invites members of the public to submit their own images of the Glenrothes sculptures. People just need to visit the website to submit their images. Images from the contest will then be displayed in a public exhibition in the Rothes Hall, between July 2nd and August 9th 2012.

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

For further information

David Gray
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07747 165 289