Thursday, 27 November 2008


On Tuesday Iain and I went to Edinburgh to the unveiling of the James Clerk Maxwell statue done by Sandy Stoddart, sculptor based in Paisely.

It was Professsor Barr who got this going several years ago. "Sandy', he said "we need a statue of Clerk Maxwell. You're just the man to do it!" Funds were secured and Tuesday was a historic day when the great and the good (and the rest of us) gathered at the Royal Society of Edinburgh so honour both the man and ... to my mind, at least, the sculptor.

Before the unveiling Sandy Stoddart gave a short description of the work (and what a lot of work!) of conceptualizing the sculpture and its 2 bas-reliefs for the plinth (one relating to Newton and one relating to Einstein).

Several years ago we had a tour around Sandy's studio and over lunch he and Iain and Professor Barr chewed over ideas about how to portray in a bas-relief such concepts as gravity and time!

To listen (both several years ago and at the Royal Society) to Sandy describe his thinking was a real privilege! One day, one hour spent in company of such people is worth more than any holiday to a Florentine art gallery or going on a cruise to see Greek ruins in the Agean!

What am I talking about? See here and here.

So to the unveiling.... As we walked from the Bus Station, across St Andrew's Square, there was the statue swathed in polythene (on the right below) situated at the junction of St Andrew's Square and George Street.

That big fluted column in the square is the Melville Monument. It is 41m high and sits centrally to St Andrew's Square, dominating it and views along George Street. I see that it "is the statue of Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville. Viscount Melville (or Lord Melville) was an aristocratic 18th century politician, but more importantly the King's Chancellor, and has been described as the most powerful Scot of his day." Never heard of him.... (On the other side of the square is the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ, built to house Sir Laurence Dundas.)

Anyhow, where was I? Here is the sculpture awaiting the arrival of the dignitaries. The Royal Society is just down the street from here. Everyone forgathered there first and then proceeded to this site just before 1 pm. It was very cold and everyone was warned to be well-wrapped up. Also we had been told that at the moment of unveiling everyone was to throw their hat in the air. So we both brought an old hat dug out from the loft and shoved into our coat pocket in readiness!

Da-da! The Moment of Unveiling (done by Alex Fergusson, MSP).

This is the best photo because the back of that head on the left is the sculptor, Sandy Stoddart, in the brown coat. He is looking up at his just-unveiled work. (See also one of the 2 bas-reliefs on the plinth.) I wonder what he was feeling; what must it be like to have created such a work of public art?

Oh .... and the hats? One man behind me did and then quickly retrieved it!

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