Friday, June 30, 2017

The Kelpies!

As a horse woman and art lover the visit to the Kelpies in Falkirk, near Edinburgh, was a must.
But I truly believe this amazing sculpture boggles everybody's  mind....

The Location:

The Kelpies are part of a newly designed parkland, called the Helix, which connects 16 communities within the Falkirk area. The sculptures are a landmark at the eastern entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal and a new canal extension built as part of The Helix park. To get a better idea of their unique location take a quick peak at the Mayflower website, their aerial image about the project gives you a good idea.

The Vision:

The Kelpies are designed by the Scottish sculptor Andy Scott. With strong ties to the Falkirk area,  "Falkirk was my father's home town and that inherited association to the town has been one of my driving inspirations. A sense of deep personal legacy has informed my thinking from the outset, with old family connections anchoring me to the project." (1) his artistic mind created the perfect sculpture to express his vision.
Here in his own words:
"During the conceptual stages, I visualised the Kelpies as monuments to the horse and a paean to the lost industries of the Falkirk area and of Scotland."
"The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures, but from the original sketches of 2006 I deliberately styled the sculptures as heavy horses. In early proposal documents I referred to Clydesdales, Shires and Percherons, of the fabled equus magnus of the northern countries." (1)
In the end it were two Clydesdale horses, Baron and Duke, who stood model for the famous sculpture.

While photographing the sculpture near sunset I was fascinated about the many angles and views...if you look closely in the above image the horse is about to eat the moon, in the below image it looks like a dragon spitting fire. The light playing and reflecting on the steel plates lets you imagine the muscles playing in the horses neck and face.
"The mosaic effect created by the flow of the plates and the view through the openings capture the horses as if in motion." (2)

The mosaic effect created by the flow of the plates and the view through the openings capture the horses as if in motion.

What's in the name:

In the Scottish legend a Kelpie is a shape changing water spirit which haunts rivers and streams, mostly in the shape of a horse. They are wicked creatures who may appear as cute pony to lure children on their back, but once mounted the children were unable to get off and the Kelpie would drag them in the water and eat them!
Well, no wonder Andy Scott preferred Clydesdales...

This sketch I photographed through the window of the giftstore at the park, which unfortunately was already closed. I would have loved to buy it. Click on it to see in in full size and see the relation of people to the sculpture! We were standing in front of the Kelpies and after having seen this sketch I almost was waiting for the moment they would stomp out of the water and run us over.

This image of the Kelpies under construction I photographed off a recycling bin. For a real insight of the construction of this massive statue I highly recommend watching the The Kelpies -Time Lapse , it will give you goose bumps!

Some Numbers:
  • the Kelpies were built in only 90 days (see time-lapse) starting in June 2013
  • they are 30 meters/98.4 feet high
  • the foundation consists of 1200 tonnes steel-reinforced concrete per head 
  • each horse head weighs 300 tonnes
  • the sculpture is made with 928 unique steel-skin plates


"The artistic intent of (the Kelpies) is built around a contemporary sculptural monument. Water-borne, towering gateways into The Helix, the Forth & Clyde canal and Scotland, translating the legacy of the area into proud equine guardians."  Andy Scott, Sculptor  (1)

During the evening and night the Kelpies are illuminated with ever changing colored light, which inspired me to create this poster.

Although we spent hours there, I can't wait to go back...after all they are Kelpies...they will lure me back.


(1) The Helix
(2) Engineering the Kelpies
Andy Scott Sculptor
Tata Steel, a case study
Mayflower Engineering 
Wikipedia - Kelpies
Time Lapse