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Glimpsed briefly from the highway whilst heading north for a weekend away in 2014, my first views of the Kelpies were rushed (at 70 miles an hour) and heart-wrenching. I can’t quite describe the impact they had on me, but it was akin to falling in love very quickly. Once seen in person, it doesn’t take long to start falling in love with The Kelpies.
The Kelpies are two gigantic horse head sculptures situated in Falkirk, Scotland, and created by Scottish sculptor, Andy Scott. Weighing in at 300 tonnes each and 30 meters tall, the Kelpies were named after the mythical transforming beasts with the power of 10 horses (a nod to the transformational impact of inland waterways), but are also a homage to the importance of the heavy horse industry in Scotland.
Seeing the documentary on the creation of the Kelpies helped me understand their position as the gateway to the new extension of the Forth and Clyde Canal called The Helix. But their real power, for me, isn’t in their meaning or location, but their incredibly dynamic and sensuous aesthetic, and the powerful juxtaposition of serpentine flow and fabricated steel.
The sense of movement created in these static objects is an absolute feat – they really do look like they are emerging from the canals and flicking their manes as they go (can you tell I am a bit enamoured?).
The new Helix park is huge, with many different carparks for visitors. You can also take guided tours to understand more about the construction of the Kelpies and how they work with the waterways. It is a great day for the family. For more info and a great time-lapse video of the construction, visit the Helix website.
Coming from a design background, my endless search for pure form, unencumbered by the burden of meaning and context, is sated by The Kelpies. They are endlessly pleasing just for their shape. Yet, for those who value contextualisation, they are incredibly fulfilling too. And from a public display perspective, a sculpture that can do both surely must be the pinnacle of success.
Visit The Kelpies – they will blow your mind and melt your heart.
All photos © Hannah Henderson and may not be used without permission (sharing this blog post is fine, though!). Images shot with a Canon DSLR T3i Rebel + Canon EF Lens 50mm 1:1.8 STM; and an iPhone6s.