Kelpie head

Pineapples, Water Horses and the Lady of the North

I’ve been braving the Wintery weather to visit some sculptural landmarks with my friend from Newcastle, and I thought I’d share the photos with you.

I had seen crazy pictures before of a Pineapple sculpture in West Lothian. It turns out it is a National Trust for Scotland property: a folly attached to hothouses that were used to grow pineapples:

The Pineapple

It was built by the Earl of Dunmore in 18th Century. Pineapples were a very popular exotic fruit then, which only the rich could obtain at that time. Wikipedia has a lovely long entry about it. It is amazingly carved, and looks to still be in great condition:

The Pineapple

It was near Falkirk, so it was an ideal opportunity to go and see the new Kelpie sculptures in Helix park.  There had been a BBC programme about the making of them, and I was keen to see them in person. Here they are:

The Kelpies

The were sculpted by Glaswegian artist Andy Scott, and are two 30 metre high steel horses heads.

The Kelpies

They are built next to locks at the Forth and Clyde canal. A Kelpie is a mythological water horse, which had the strength of 100 horses.

Kelpie head

The sculptures were modeled on Clydesdale horses which would have pulled the boats along these canals.

Kelpie Mane

I think it’s incredible that the artist has created such character and movement at such a size and in such an unyielding material.

Kelpie head

We signed up to go on a tour, which took us inside one of the Kelpies. Here is the entrance:

Kelpie entrance

This is looking up inside the sculpture:

Kelpie inside

These are the walls:

Kelpie inside

Every single metal sheet is different, constructing it, must have been like doing a very large jigsaw puzzle . It was appalling weather the day we visited, it was even raining inside:

Ruth in Kelpie

A really successful piece of public art, I think, and popular, it was quite busy there, even on a cold wet day.

Another sculpture we had been meaning to visit is Northumberlandia. It is near Cramlington, just North of Newcastle, and is designed by the landform artist Charles Jencks. He also created the sculpture, Landform Ueda, outside the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, and I wrote a blog post featuring his sculptures, Life Mounds, at Jupiter Artland.

We had attempted to visit before, but were thwarted by weather the first time; we drove all the way there and decided it was too wet and windy to be an enjoyable experience. We couldn’t believe that it started raining just before we got to the car park this time too. We were determined though, and in the hope the rain would clear up, we went for a cuppa in the Visitor Centre, and were rewarded by the sun coming out!

Northumberlandia reclining

Although it was bitterly cold, and exposed as we walked around.

This sculpture is in the shape of a reclining woman. Here is her face:

Northumberlandia Face

We were amused by this sign:

Northumberlandia keep off face

I can’t think of many other places this would appear.

Of course we had to walk up one of her breasts! This is the view from one to the other:

Northumberlandia Breast to Breast

Those hummocks are her knees:

Northumberlandia Knees

The highest point is the forehead, and from here you can look down her body:

Northumberlandia face and body

And over the other side of her nose you can see her hand in one of the lakes:

Northumberlandia Eye and Hand

Of course the best way to see her is by air:

I think she looks a little bit squished into the space, maybe figure drawing is not the artist’s forte, and it must be limited by the logistics of sculpting the land and making the curves work on the vertical and horizontal planes. I feel his sculptures at Jupiter Artland are more successful aesthetically. However, it has been another popular piece of public art which can only enhance its industrial location.

Northumberlandia silhouette

It’s marvellous that I now have the energy to visit and walk around these sculptures, and there is more to come: I am going to Venice, which I could not have managed while I was ill. There are knitting pattern designs brewing, which should be available in March, and I will be volunteering at the 2nd Edinburgh Yarn Festival then too.

Thanks to S. Miller for the use his photos for some of The Pineapple and The Kelpies.



  1. Interesting post – I’d love to go inside the kelpies! I forgot to say yesterday that I’d posted about the Museum of Scotland, so don’t forget to check my new blog:

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