We are incredibly proud to have a collaborative partnership with Dr Andy Scott. With a shared appreciation of skilled craft, we began working with Dr Scott around our 150th anniversary celebrations, as we sought an artist to collaborate with who captured the graceful beauty, yet striking impact our own pieces evoke. Dr Scott continues to be busy creating dynamic pieces to exhibit all around the world. As we admire his latest designs for the Las Vegas Memorial, we caught up with him to better understand his artistic journey and working practices.
Did you always want to be a sculptor?
No. I was always fascinated by sculpture, but it was not something they taught at school. When I was at school I wanted to be a painter or a graphic artist. I had no experience of sculpture until I attended Glasgow School of Art. In first year I did a short sculpture course and I was hooked.
What drew you towards working in steel and bronze?
With steel it was the physical challenge of creating art from such a hard and unyielding material, and maybe it was the influence of the heavy industries in Glasgow when I was growing up. Bronze sculpture starts as clay modelling before its cast, and that’s a more traditional sculpture-making process. I think that appeals as it’s such a contradiction to the demands of steelwork. It’s a much more malleable material which of course throws up all sorts of challenges of its own but is somehow a more cathartic process.
What do you find most inspiring about working on such a large scale?
The challenge of making a bold statement with my art. It can be very demanding, both physically and logistically. It not only demands a lot of time, space and cost to make, but it then takes up a space in the public realm which the audience can’t ignore. There are multiple challenges to deal with beyond the straightforward aesthetics of sculpting and the engineering of making sculptures stand up. I guess it’s dealing with those elements along with satisfying the remit of the client which I find inspiring.
How did the idea of the Kelpies arise?
Scottish Canals had a concept for two giant engineering structures to compliment the nearby Falkirk Wheel and they approached me with the title of The Kelpies. They asked if I could come up with some ideas and I think its fair to say I came up with something different from what they had in mind. Rather than pursue the mythological theme of the title, I chose to develop ideas related to the equine theme, and eventually settled on what became the sculptures you now see. I’m eternally grateful that they had the vision and perseverance to stick with the project because it was not easy to bring to reality.
How long did the Kelpie’s project take to bring to fruition?
In total around eight and a half years, but six years of that was bureaucracy. The Kelpies were part of an extensive re-design of the canal and The Helix park development, so it became a very complex and multi-layered project. The actual design and sculpting of the artworks took about two and a half.
The Game of Kings project is something we have enormous pride in being part of – did that follow a similar artistic process to the Kelpies in terms of inspiration/trial and error/ project length etc? or was it incredibly different?
No that was quite different. I’d been exploring horse themes in my art and I discovered that historically the rook chess piece had been a chariot horse. It occurred to me that it would be an interesting idea to translate all of the chess pieces into equine elements. For example the bishop might be an ecclesiastical or ceremonial horse, hence the plumed horse concept, the knight could be some kind of warrior mount, the king or queen could be based on a horse actually owned by any potential client for the project. We’d been working with Hamilton and Inches already and the team there were quite taken by the idea so we embarked on a project to create artworks as samples for the concept.
At the same time, they asked me if I had anything large scale to display for their 150th anniversary and the visit of Queen Elizabeth. I took a leap of faith and made a large-scale version of The Rook, in steel. That stood on George Street in Edinburgh for a few weeks and of course was visited by Her Majesty. That same large scale Rook sculpture now stands at the Residence of the UK Consul General here in Los Angeles.
I’m still hopeful that some day a client might be found who would commit to the original Game of Kings sculptural chess set, as it would be an incredible undertaking and addition to our working relationship with Hamilton & Inches.
If you had to pick a favourite piece of your own work, what would it be?
Probably The Kelpies due to their success as iconic landmarks. It was an incredibly difficult project to bring to reality and the result of a huge team effort. I think that’s what makes them stand out for me.
When planning/designing a new piece do you start with the location or is that secondary to the form itself?
Yes I almost always relate to the intended location for the artwork.
And if you had to pick your favourite piece of another artist’s work, what would it be?
That’s a really hard question to answer. The paintings of Chuck Close were very influential to the development of my sculpture technique. As for sculpture, if you ask me next week I’ll probably say something else, but right now I would say “The Sea King’s Daughter” by Gilbert Bayes.
How do you find living in LA – do you miss Scotland?
We’re really enjoying it. It’s very different as you can imagine. It is an unbelievably huge city but we love the more laid-back lifestyle. It’s very unlike other parts of America, in a good way. We’ve got a great studio and network of friends now and well settled into our neighbourhood. The climate makes such a difference, being sunny most days, though it does get a bit hot in the studio. I do miss Scotland at times : friends and family of course, but also the architecture, those grand Victorian and and Edwardian buildings that make Glasgow and Edinburgh so distinctive.