Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Acclaimed artist’s sculpture keeps watch on wildlife wonder at leading attraction Scottish Seabird Centre

The award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre, an independent visitor attraction, conservation and education charity, unveiled a stunning new sculpture by the acclaimed Scottish artist Kenny Hunter, on 28th March 2014.

Hunter, best known for his Citizen Firefighter sculpture outside Glasgow’s Central Station, was commissioned to create The Watcher by the Scottish Seabird Centre following an open competition for artists in 2011 to create innovative and stunning new works of art to act as gateways to the Seabird Centre.

Following 30 original artist submissions, a public exhibition and vote, two winning commissions were selected. Fellow Scottish artist Diane McLean was the first to have her winning sculpture erected, with her gannet archway installed in December 2013.

The Watcher is a life-sized figure cast in bronze at the foundry at Powderhall Bronze, Edinburgh. The male figure is adult, contemporary and dressed in outdoor wear, typical of a bird watcher or naturalist. Along with his binoculars he carries a camera bag and wears stout boots. His gaze is directed northeast toward the world-famous Bass Rock which is home to around 150,000 gannets at the peak of the breeding season.

The Scottish Seabird Centre is dedicated to inspiring people to enjoy, conserve and learn about wildlife and the natural environment. Kenny Hunter has an emotional connection to North Berwick which stems from his East Lothian childhood, during which he would make regular trips to the town. As an adult, Hunter has continued to enjoy the boat trips from the harbour out to the incredible Bass Rock as his interest in nature and Scottish wildlife has grown.
Kenny Hunter, artist, said: “Human relationships with nature are very complex; we are custodians as well as exploiters of it. As a sculptor I feel comfortable asking questions rather than making a bold statement. The Watcher is an anonymous figure the public will encounter at ground level, as an equal. I hope The Watcher will encourage people to venture out of their comfort zone, to look at nature and to the sea across the Forth from the Scottish Seabird Centre.
 
“The public’s experience of The Watcher will be more or less like the experience they have of North Berwick harbour and the Scottish Seabird Centre itself, evoking the countless other departures and homecomings that have been played out in this location throughout history.

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said:
“Art is an outstanding way to inspire people about wildlife. Since opening, the Seabird Centre has supported numerous photographers, painters and sculptors and many of their works can now be seen in and around the Centre.

“As we celebrate Scotland’s wildlife in the year of Homecoming, this latest addition at the approach to the Centre and looking out to the world’s largest single island gannet colony will hopefully make people think about our impact on wildlife and the natural environment – both good and bad – historically, now and in the future. This stunning new sculpture by an artist of Kenny Hunter’s calibre, with Scotland’s wildlife as its inspiration, will, I am sure, be a popular additional attraction at the Scottish Seabird Centre.

“We are very grateful to everyone that has supported this wonderful initiative, in particular Creative Scotland and East Lothian Council. We are also grateful to everyone that voted in the public competition to choose the winning sculptures.”

The installation of The Watcher at the Scottish Seabird Centre is the first of several key commissions to be unveiled by Hunter this summer, with solo shows at House for An Art Lover, from 4 July to 4 September and Paxton House, Berwick-upon-Tweed as part of GENERATION, the exhibition series celebrating 25 years of Scottish contemporary art as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. Hunter is also working on a large-scale frieze commission for Leicester Square in London.
Media enquiries to Fiona Leith on 07581 056 562, or Peter Duncan on 07740 469 949.
I’d like to think that the sculpture will encourage people to be still and ask themselves what he’s thinking about, what he’s looking at and then engage with it themselves.

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