The legacy of one of East Lothian’s most famous sons, John Muir, has been immortalised through a five-metre high steel bear sculpted by renowned Scottish artist Andy Scott.
The remarkable sculpture, created by the same man who created the Kelpies, was unveiled today.
John Muir, born in Dunbar in 1838, played a key role in the development of America’s national parks.
He emigrated from Scotland in 1849 and is famous for petitioning the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill, establishing Yosemite National Park.
The bear is symbolic of John Muir’s travels through the far-off wilderness of America’s west, in the Rockies and his advocacy for National Parks.
The sculpture is made of welded steel and is fabricated from steel plates of various thicknesses, heavy at the bottom and lighter towards the top, giving the structure an inherent strength. Visitors will be able to access it using a walkway.
The bear will be illuminated by lighting using renewable energy and is situated at the eastern gateway to Dunbar, visible from the east coast railway line and A1.
The sculpture, which is fixed to a base erected on a mound planted with wild flowers, forms part of the mixed-use Hallhill development, which started on site in 1999.
The event was marked by a reception comprising local dignitaries and school children from Dunbar Primary at the site, with Mrs Brenda McNeil from Hallhill Developments unveiling a plaque on the sculpture to mark the event.
A competition will now be undertaken with local schools to give the bear a name.
Sculptor, Andy Scott, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art, has completed over 70 projects across the UK and internationally. His distinctive hand-crafted figurative sculptures combine traditional skill with contemporary fabrication techniques.
He said: “It is fantastic to see this sculpture finally being erected as part of the Hallhill development, especially in memory of such an influential character as John Muir, which is particularly apt given today’s focus on the environment.
“This bear sculpture will provide an opportunity to enlighten people about the man and his work. It is a symbol of the wilderness John Muir was such a passionate advocate of and is testament to his incredible desire to protect the natural environment.”
Angela Leitch, Chief Executive of East Lothian Council, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Andy Scott’s latest eye-catching sculpture has been unveiled here in East Lothian.
“It’s a highly appropriate way of paying tribute to John Muir, one of the county’s most famous sons, who played such an influential role in the development of America’s national parks.
“It complements fantastic attractions such as John Muir’s Birthplace in Dunbar and the John Muir Way, which continues to be a popular trail with visitors and locals alike.
“At five metres high, we’re sure the sculpture will become a real talking point, helping to draw even more visitors to the area.”