Listed Building

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NORTH STREET, THE BIRDSLB51795

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
C
Date Added
09/08/2011
Local Authority
Fife
Planning Authority
Fife
Parish
Markinch
NGR
NO 27201 1142
Coordinates
327201, 701142

Description

Malcolm Robertson, 1980-84. Abstracted sculpture representing flock of birds taking flight. Moulded polymer-resin plinth in shape of rocky outcrop supporting asymetric metal framework with irregular arrangement of wing-shaped polymer-resin mouldings.

Statement of Special Interest

Prominently sited on North Street in front of the County Offices, this dynamic sculpture is characterised by a sense of forward and upward motion with the weight of the rock juxtaposed with the lightness of the birds. The Birds is an interesting early work by Town Artist Malcolm Robertson reflecting the development of a distinctive style which remains true to the ethos and spirit of the earlier Glenrothes Town Art model.

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. There are several recurring themes including the 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 approach taken to public art in Glenrothes was pioneering and 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.

References

Bibliography

Glenrothes Development Corporation: Glenrothes Town Artist (1974, reissued 1975), The Arts In Glenrothes (1980), Glenrothes Town Art Guide (1984). Keith Ferguson, A History of Glenrothes (1982) p100. Further information courtesy of Malcolm and Kathryn Robertson.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

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Printed: 26/06/2019 03:24