Gateshead has it’s Angel of the North and now Gretna wants it’s Star of Caledonia. Vanity Project or iconic art? One might suggest that in a time of austerity it is not exactly the wisest thing to spend £4.8 million on something that does nothing. Even one of two of the design team is London based. Cecil Balmond, a Sri Lankan/British designer, is hardly a Scottish name. And let us be clear, they have yet to raise funding and are hopeful that the Scottish Government will be generous. Now let’s be straight, if someone wants to build something like this and pay for it themselves then all power to their elbow. The Mittal structure, another Cecil Balmond design, in the Olympic Park comes to mind, although I think we ended up paying for a lot of that. However this is a bit of a ‘me too’ philosophy with the Angel of the North leading the way. Scotland already has it’s iconic landmarks in Stirling and Edinburgh Castles and the Falkirk Wheel. This new Star of Caledonia is supposed to reflect a constant trace of Scotland’s power of inventiveness. Fine but the other three examples were all built to do something. Does this reflect the new Scotland that just invests in other countries technologies; wind turbines for example. Perhaps an iconic structure would have been an oil rig, the last area of Scotland’s true innovation and design. This concept came about in 2001 and has taken this long in gestation. Let us hope that it’s delivery is not so long. Promised for 2014, it seems some way to go unless the Independence Program deems it a benefit and funds it from the Scottish exchequer. Interesting to see how they would square that with the eight times return on Scottish investment. Although I quite like the structure, I feel that it has a slightly jarring effect, similar one might say to the Scottish parliament. I don’t actually see any statement. As I say, a vanity project! And four point eight million pounds.
And how many of you knew that the border with England was the River Sark?