Falling in love with The Kelpies

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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.

 

Wide shot - 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.

 

Silhouette - Falling in love with The Kelpies

 

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.

 

  Kelpie neck - Falling in love with The Kelpies  Kelpie neck close-up - Falling in love with The Kelpies

 

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.

 

Kelpie canal - Falling in love with The Kelpies

 

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.

BW Kelpie - Falling in love with The Kelpies

 

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.

 



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15 Comments

  • Wow! The Kelpies are huge…I didn’t quite imagine how big they were till I saw the second last image. No wonder they are so fascinating and representative of the region…

  • Anuradha Goyal says:

    Wow, where exactly is this sculpture located in Scotland? They look majestic and I am sure they stand out in the vast landscape of the highlands. Are they made of metal?

    • HHLifestyleTravel says:

      They are located in Falkirk, just outside of Edinburgh – so not as far up as the highlands. Literally just 20 minutes drive from Edinburgh and right next to the highway 😉 Yep, made out of huge plates of metal welded onto a frame. Gorgeous creatures!

  • SkyeClass says:

    I absolutely love going to the Kelpies. Been there several times. I get the same feeling of awe and wonder as you did every time I go. You didn’t mention that they’re actually the tallest equestrian sculptures in the world! Best time to go is at sunset, and park at the free car park down the road.

    • HHLifestyleTravel says:

      Great additional tips! Yes, we always park at the free carpark, partly also because I like to approach the Kelpies slowly and take pics 😉

  • Paige Wunder says:

    I’d never heard of the Kelpies, but now I want to see them so badly. Luckily, I’m heading to Scotland in July, so this is on the list. Is the Loch Ness Monster an example of a kelpie.

    • HHLifestyleTravel says:

      Kelpies are a specific mythical creatures, so not the same as the Loch Ness Monster… although both are mythical 😉 Then again, nobody knows what Nessie is, so maybe! 😉

  • Rhonda Albom says:

    I never would have realised from first glance that the sculptures are over 30 metres tall. They dwarf everything so completely in your photos that it isn’t even noticeable. What an incredible find. Did you realise they were there or was it a happy accident you stumbled upon them?

    • HHLifestyleTravel says:

      I knew they had been built, but didn’t realise how close they were to the highway. As soon as I saw them I fell in love – they are such satisfyingly beautiful creatures!

  • Kirstie says:

    It is quite amazing to see the horses seem alive when you take different angles of photo. The shape is beautiful, each angle seems different, like it’s not from the same sculpture!

  • These look pretty spectacular in your photos – I can’t even imagine getting a chance to see them up close! Do they get a lot of tourists during the day? Would you recommend a visit around sunrise or sunset? I’m guessing you can’t climb or interact with them at all but of course that always appeals to my eye for a good photo op! Thanks for sharing – awesome photos!

    • HHLifestyleTravel says:

      It is hugely popular in summer. I recommend visiting at sunset, because they light them up, and combine that with the sunset and it’s magical! You can do tours where you can see inside them I believe!

  • Meg Jerrard says:

    They are quite the impressive sculptures – a highlight of my time in Scotland too – I agree that it’s incredible how they’ve been created in a way to suggest movement, even though they’re static. I can imagine how fascinating they would be with you having a design background – quite a sculptural achievement!

  • Punita says:

    I don’t have a background in design, but I love admiring structures, monuments, sculptures and statues. I can imagine how many pictures you may have taken of the Kelpies from different angles, studying all its contours in detail.

  • Nisha says:

    Never heard of the Kelpies before now. Now that I see them, I find them very beautiful. At 30M they are indeed huge. I especially like the location along the river. From far it looks they have just emerged out of the water and any time soon the rest of the body will appear!

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