Statement of Special Interest
This example of a henge sculpture by the Town Artist of the period is a good example of the type of personal and distinctive narrative public art which Glenrothes excels at. It forms a major marker at the entrance to the Pitteuchar neighbourhood. The artist, David Harding, considers Henge to be one of his most important projects. The work is designed so that it must be entered to be appreciated. The largest stone features a quote from Ghandi - 'Man's best monument is not a thing of stone but consists in living deeds and in the memory which survives in the minds of those he served'. The smallest includes Celtic disc forms and the titles of songs by Bob Dylan and The Beatles.
As with many of the artworks in Glenrothes, Henge responds directly to the heritage of the area, namely the neolithic stone circle at nearby Balbirnie which was discovered in 1950 and relocated in 1970. Themes are often repeated across the town and there is more than one example of a henge. Malcolm Robertson's 'Standing Stones' at the Coul roundabout on the western freeway is another example with hidden profile faces on its edges.
The Town of Glenrothes benefits from a distinctive and diverse collection of public art set within a carefully tailored urban landscape. Driven by a range of underlying principals, social ideals and collective enterprise, the works often reflect the history of the area and help to shape and define a developing identity for the town. Local schoolchildren and other community groups participated in the creation of a number of the works and the social context is an important part of their wider significance.
There are prominent landmark sculptures and more enclosed, hidden pieces which are encountered by residents rather than visitors. Some are component parts of other structures with murals and sculptures set within buildings and underpasses. Other recurring themes include numerous groups of concrete mushrooms and hippopotami. New pieces continue to be created and the collection currently consists of around 150 works.
The late 20th century saw a move away from the sculptural reproduction of significant public figures on plinths towards a public art with a more localised meaning, favouring simple materials and a hands-on collaborative approach. In 1968, the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC) sought to employ an artist to collaborate with the architects, civil engineers and builders on various projects across the developing built environment. This was the first appointment of its kind in the UK. David Harding was Town Artist, as the role was to become known, between 1968 and 1978 and was followed by Malcolm Robertson between 1978 and 1990. From 1972, post-graduate students were engaged to assist the Town Artist, the first being Stanley Bonnar who designed the Glenrothes hippo and later became Town Artist for East Kilbride.
The appointment of a Town Artist and the pioneering approach taken to public art in Glenrothes aroused widespread interest in the UK and abroad with the Artists invited to speak on the subject in America, Australasia and elsewhere. David Harding went on to found the influential Environmental Art Department at Glasgow School of Art in 1985 and remains an active collaborator and champion of public art in Scotland. Malcolm Robertson began his own studio in 1991 and continues to work internationally in partnership with communities and local authorities, producing and exhibiting public sculpture and artwork.
Glenrothes was designated in 1948 under the New Towns (Scotland) Act 1946 as Scotland's second post-war new town, after East Kilbride (1947). The plan was to build a 5,320 acre settlement for a population of 35,000 people. The planning, development, management and promotion of Glenrothes was the responsibility of the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC) appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
The town was populated in the early 1950s by mining families moving from the West of Scotland and the declining Lothian coalfield areas to work at Rothes Colliery, a new Super Pit officially opened by the Queen in 1957. Although the colliery failed to operate as expected, a few years later the town was appointed one of the economic focal points for Central Scotland. The GDC was successful in attracting modern electronics factories to the town during the 1960s and by the mid-1970s the town had become the headquarters of Fife Regional Council. It remains the administrative centre of Fife.