Colourful scottie sculptures lined the streets of St Andrews to welcome students back to campus break this summer.
The large-scale public art trail has involved a total of 30 sculptures, 16 of which are located around St Andrews. The others are around the Northeast and Fife Coast.
The project was spearheaded by The St Andrews Business Improvement District (BID), a collective of businesses that come together to create projects and opportunities to improve the local business environment, in cooperation with creative producers Wild in Art, the Scotties by the Sea.
The sculptures are an incentive to rake in tourists and business and improve the larger community, Louise Fraser, who runs BID, said.
“The economic impact of sculptures is tried and tested”, Fraser said. “People will come from near and far to walk around. They will collect their little sculptures. They will come in for coffee, buy a sandwich at the Subway, pop into Boots to buy an umbrella. The economic impact of sculptures is a given.”
BID and Wild in Art generated the prototype of the Scottie. “We went through all sorts of things. Like, the ear up, the tail looking like it's in motion, the tongue out. There was a great debate about all that”, Fraser said.
Now, the undecorated prototype is in Fraser Gallery on North Street, owned by Roderick and Louise Fraser.
The University of St Andrews has been involved in the project from the beginning and the University has sponsored two dogs: Swimming Scottie and Flower O’Scottie. “We have received a lot of support from the management of the University because they are always looking to add to the student experience as well as the visitor experience”, said Fraser. “The reaction has been phenomenal.”
The statues have brought in people from across the nation.
Anne and Niel Harris, for instance, said that they recently came to St Andrews on a trip around the West Coast from their home town West Yorkshire — to have a look at the scotties.
Accompanying the couple were three scotties of their own: Molly, Meg, and Abby. “I think the project is excellent. It's a really good idea, and it helps that we have scotties. We have really enjoyed it”, said Mrs Harris.
“They are different”, her husband added. “We found out about the sculptures online, and thought we would make a fun day out of it.”
When the couple stopped for lunch, they added that they made a point to dine at one that had a scottie out front. “It was the scottie outside the restaurant door that attracted us to the place”, said Ms. Harris. “It really draws people into the town and into different businesses.”
“I think it's a good way of getting people into places, especially on the coast”, she said. “We never would have gone to visit some of these small, local, coastal towns, but we have gone to see the scotties.”
The couple said their favourite scottie is one that the University sponsored — located in St Mary's Quadrangle.
To come up with the project design in the first place, BID and Wild in Art looked for a sculpture that would represent both the culture and location of St Andrews.
“Scotties” are inherently connected to Scotland. “The word in itself alludes to that”, said Fraser. Rather than thinking rigidly, BINs thought outside of the box, allowing for more expression in the project. “He looks alive, he looks friendly, he looks approachable. He is just adorable. I love him”, Fraser added.
In the end, all the large sculptures will be auctioned off on behalf of Maggie’s: Everyone's Home of Cancer Care, a charity that provides free cancer support.
“We choose Maggie’s because cancer is still, unfortunately, one of the biggest killers in the UK. It touches many, many more people than it immediately impacts upon. Once the trail is over, the main focus is raising as much money as we possibly can”, said Fraser.
The first Maggie centre was opened in Edinburgh in 1996, and it is a network across the UK. Maggie’s also has experience with fundraising through sculpture trails. “They were able to bring knowledge and experience that we didn't have, because we had never done trails before”, said Fraser.
The project was announced on November 30th, 2022. There was a call to artists where they were invited to submit a preliminary sketch of how they might decorate their scotties.
“I think it was a bit of a challenge for the artist as well. Artists typically work on flat surfaces, but this allowed for a bigger challenge”, Fraser said.
Over 200 applications were submitted. Local businesses around St Andrews sponsored different sculptures, allowing them to pick the design. “For example, The Adamson, they saw the Hound Dog, and being massive Elvis fans, there was no question, that was the dog that they were going for”, said Fraser.
Louise Oswald, an Edinburgh native, moved to St Andrews with her husband and family 10 years ago. She is responsible for the creation of the “Rocky Buddo” scottie. “It is really nice to have something like this come to a small town like St Andrews”, Oswald said.” I really hope that it has brought people to St Andrews that could not have normally visited.”
“I wanted to design something that really represented what the area means to me”, she said. “For me living here is a lot about getting out in all weathers and having that freedom to be at the sea every day. That's what I really wanted to represent, was the fresh air. Just that experience of being by the sea, it's such a big part of St Andrews.”
The “Rocky Buddo” has a collar of Oswalds landscapes. “I think his collar is most representative of my actual painting. I like that he has that little representation”, Oswald said. “The rest of it was playing around and seeing what I could do with the paint.”
“I think the people in the town have really enjoyed it”, she added. “We are such a dog friendly area, so it helps that they are scotties.”
Wild in Art has an app that provides a map of the scottie trail. “When our app was released, it went to number four, almost immediately. There was a massive download. The impact has been phenomenal”, said Fraser.
There has also been quite a lot of media coverage. “It's been all over the place”, Fraser said. “We have been on the television quite a few times.”
Scotties by the Sea has attracted a crowd of people to St. Andrews. The project incorporates local artists as a way to draw business to the community and raise funds for important charity. “So, anything we can do to improve the look, the feel, and the environment is good. And, the Scotties tick all those boxes”, Fraser said.
Photo: Fraser Gallery St Andrews