‘The Star of Caledonia’ winning design.
The Gretna Landmark Trust has announced that Cecil Balmond is the winning artist for the Gretna Landmark’s competition to design ‘The Great Unknown’. Cecil has been chosen to work with internationally renowned architectural critic, land artist and designer Charles Jencks to realise an ambitious large scale project of integrated sculptural form and landscape that celebrates and explores the border crossing into Scotland at Gretna.
Andrew Dixon, selection panelist and chief executive of Creative Scotland said, "Cecil Balmond's outline proposal will combine artistic vision and engineering to produce a landmark that is rooted in Scotland's scientific contribution to the world. The project will provide millions of future visitors with an iconic welcome and an ever changing contemporary symbol of a confident, creative Scotland
." Project Background
The project is being developed and produced by Wide Open (South Scotland) Ltd for The Gretna Landmark Trust. Over the last six years the creative direction has evolved out of a series of seminars and workshops led by Charles Jencks and involving the input of key Scottish academics and cultural thinkers who helped to inform the brief and develop themes for the project. ‘Energy’, ‘innovation’ and ‘the river of identity running deep’ emerged very strongly as themes within the brief, especially the role that energy and its conservation might play in the future, the inventive energy of the Scottish people and also the natural energy of Scotland’s dynamic landscape.
The Gretna Landmark’s ‘he Great Unknown’ was dubbed early on as a working-title for the competition. As the competition for design evolved, this working-title was left intentionally vague to encourage innovation and limitless thinking amongst the design contenders for the Gretna Landmark project.The Proposal
‘The Star of Caledonia’ (working title) is Cecil Balmond’s response to the ‘The Great Unknown’. It is a project of form and landscape, and is the result of a fully integrated collaborative effort between Cecil Balmond and Charles Jencks.
Creative director Charles Jencks described the work as:
"Crossing the border to Scotland, across the River Sark, is now a passage obscured under a bridge by cars travelling at speed. Instead of marking this with motorway signs we are using a landform and sculpture that pulls together the adjacent site, the distant hills and the Solway
"Nestled into the curving mound and springing from it is Cecil Balmond’s whirling creation. In one sense, it is a scintillating piece of calligraphy seen against the sky which will signify various meanings as you approach – starburst, energy, St. Andrew’s Cross, thistle, Highland Dancing, etc – or, if you look at the right place, the ‘map of Scotland’. It all depends from where you see it in the landscape. These meanings emerge dramatically as you walk the site, but they are also taken up by the landform and embedded in its curves
. Over the next several months Cecil and I will work to make these aspects more resolved, we respect each other, and are both inspired by the challenge of coming up with a set of dynamic elements fitting for Scotland – we hope!
‘The Star’ was born out of an idea by Balmond to capture the powerful energy, scientific heritage and magnetic pull of Scotland. Balmond’s design pays particular homage to Scottish innovation and particularly James Clerk Maxwell, the pre-eminent Scottish physicist, and mathematician noted for his groundbreaking work in electromagnetic theory. It was Maxwell who first said that light was energy and paved the way for Einstein and the other great thinkers of our modern world.
Cecil Balmond explained that:
"’The Star of Caledonia’ is a welcome; its kinetic form and light paths a constant trace of Scotland's power of invention. And I am delighted to be collaborating with Charles Jencks to create an integrated idea of this concept in both landscape and form
Power, energy and the river of identity running deep (the river Sark is the border at Gretna) are clear and constant themes in Jencks/Balmond design. By looking at the border as a series of journey crossings, back and forth, in waves that exit and enter into Scotland, Balmond has conceptualised ‘The Star of Caledonia’ by using movement and shape to create a sense of energy.
The symbolism in Balmond’s design extends further through its subtle use of S-curves to mark the cross of St Andrew. And as the eye passes in movement across the structure, its abstract form appears to shift in a series of opening and closing undulations.Regional Impact
‘The Star of Caledonia’ supports an image of a dynamic, innovative, outward-looking region that is capable of attracting and offering both investment and talent. More than five million vehicles travel north and south each year, yielding a potential audience of ten million people who will be able to experience the England-Scotland Border Crossing.
The Gretna Landmark is an important flagship project for the Gretna area and has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for the development of Gretna-Lockerbie-Annan as a national gateway to Scotland. The designs have been likened to the stars and highlights the Dumfries and Galloway Region’s Dark Skies Park status.
The presence of a world-class iconic Scottish Landmark will signal a meaningful exploration of identity and borders, and will help promote Scotland as a vibrant and creative country rich in natural resources, ideas and cultural heritage.
The initiative is supported by Dumfries & Galloway Arts, the community of Gretna, Gretna Green and Springfield, Alasdair Houston of the Gretna Green Group, Dumfries & Galloway Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The next steps for Wide Open and The Gretna Landmark are to secure funding for the further design and implementation of the Star of Caledonia, hopefully in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Please see www.gretnalandmark.com
for more information about the background to the project.