A new statue to commemorate world renowned Scots poet Robert Burns has been unveiled on his birthday.
The £25,000 sculpture, commissioned by STV, was unveiled at the National Trust for Scotland's Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway on Wednesday.
Glasgow-based artist Kenny Hunter created the cast iron piece entitled Liberty Regain'd. He said the work was inspired by Burns' A Fragment (On Glenriddel's Fox Breaking his Chain).
STV commissioned the work in honour of Burns after the public voted him to be The Greatest Scot on their recent TV series.
The piece is the latest addition to the Poet’s Path which leads from the museum building in Alloway to the cottage where Burns was born.
The cast iron piece depicts a fox, a chain and a tree stump and also creates a partner to his awe-inspiring Monument to a Mouse, a not-so timorous beastie that towers over visitors to the site.
The artist said he selected the poem as he thought its themes were ones that Burns felt keenly and to which he frequently returned in his writings.
He said: “Liberty it could be argued is a central theme for Burns and he often made poems out of its various aspects, personal, economic, social, ecclesiastical, political, and international, but he always saw freedom concretely, in relation to Scotland's problems and to the paradoxical psychology of her people.”
Rob Woodward, Chief Executive of STV, said: “STV viewers from across the world voted Robert Burns as the country’s most important, influential and popular Scot of all time as part of our 2009 series, and we are delighted to have commissioned such a lasting tribute to the nation’s bard. Kenny Hunter has created a stunning piece which honours a true cultural icon.”
The statue is the latest addition to the exhibition at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum’s Poet’s Path which is punctuated by a series of installations by contemporary artists and designers, including Glasgow-based Timorous Beasties.
Nat Edwards, museum director, said: “Kenny's statue does something very special. It combines real, immediate beauty with quite a challenging depth of understanding of Burns's key message. Its themes of real freedom are as meaningful today as they were in Burns's time. I think it will inspire a lot of people to rediscover an important poem.”
Since opening to the public in December 2010, the museum has welcomed close to half a million visitors and has won a series of accolades. This has included being selected as a finalist for the prestigious Art Fund prize, securing a five-star rating from VisitScotland and being named as Horace Broon’s ‘new favourite place in Scotland’.
The poem that inspired the stature
On Glenriddell's Fox Breaking His Chain
A Fragment, 1791.
Thou, Liberty, thou art my theme;
Not such as idle poets dream,
Who trick thee up a heathen goddess
That a fantastic cap and rod has;
Such stale conceits are poor and silly;
I paint thee out, a Highland filly,
A sturdy, stubborn, handsome dapple,
As sleek's a mouse, as round's an apple,
That when thou pleasest canst do wonders;
But when thy luckless rider blunders,
Or if thy fancy should demur there,
Wilt break thy neck ere thou go further.
These things premised, I sing a Fox,
Was caught among his native rocks,
And to a dirty kennel chained,
How he his liberty regained.
Glenriddell! Whig without a stain,
A Whig in principle and grain,
Could'st thou enslave a free-born creature,
A native denizen of Nature?
How could'st thou, with a heart so good,
(A better ne'er was sluiced with blood!)
Nail a poor devil to a tree,
That ne'er did harm to thine or thee?
The staunchest Whig Glenriddell was,
Quite frantic in his country's cause;
And oft was Reynard's prison passing,
And with his brother-Whigs canvassing
The Rights of Men, the Powers of Women,
With all the dignity of Freemen.
Sir Reynard daily heard debates
Of Princes', Kings', and Nations' fates,
With many rueful, bloody stories
Of Tyrants, Jacobites, and Tories:
From liberty how angels fell,
That now are galley-slaves in hell;
How Nimrod first the trade began
Of binding Slavery's chains on Man;
How fell Semiramis—God damn her!
Did first, with sacrilegious hammer,
(All ills till then were trivial matters)
For Man dethron'd forge hen-peck fetters;
How Xerxes, that abandoned Tory,
Thought cutting throats was reaping glory,
Until the stubborn Whigs of Sparta
Taught him great Nature's Magna Charta;
How mighty Rome her fiat hurl'd
Resistless o'er a bowing world,
And, kinder than they did desire,
Polish'd mankind with sword and fire;
With much, too tedious to relate,
Of ancient and of modern date,
But ending still, how Billy Pitt
(Unlucky boy!) with wicked wit,
Has gagg'd old Britain, drain'd her coffer,
As butchers bind and bleed a heifer,
Thus wily Reynard by degrees,
In kennel listening at his ease,
Suck'd in a mighty stock of knowledge,
As much as some folks at a College;
Knew Britain's rights and constitution,
Her aggrandisement, diminution,
How fortune wrought us good from evil;
Let no man, then, despise the Devil,
As who should say, 'I never can need him,'
Since we to scoundrels owe our freedom.
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