Yesterday I did a round trip to Ayr for the unveiling of a statue. The new and stunning UWS Ayr Campus was opened last year and the University had commissioned a work of art by Alexander Stoddart, Sculptor in Ordinary to the Queen in Scotland. Sandy chose as the subject, Coila, the Goddess of the poetic charms of Ayrshire. The encounter between Coila and Burns is told in his poem "The Vision"
"...To give my counsels all in one,
Thy tuneful flame still careful fan:
Preserve the dignity of Man,
with soul erect
And trust the Universal Plan
will all protect
And wear thou this...she solemn said,
And bound the holly round my head:
The polished leaves and berries red
Did rustling play;
And, like a passing thought, she fled
In light away.
From "The Vision by Robert Burns".
The finished statue is quintessential Alexander Stoddart and is "a thing of beauty and a joy forever. " Keats' often over-quoted line was entirely appropriate as the response of the audience to the unveiling, and to the aesthetic and affective impact of the statue.
Here are some photos:
This is now one of the most important pieces of statuary in the West of Scotland. The University's association with the West of Scotland, spreading over four campuses, is both widespread and significant as a source of educational, economic and cultural investment. The statue signifies " the spirit of dedication and diligence that University of the West of Scotland embodies." Those of us who attended the unveiling of Coila are happy to acknowledge that role, and proud to share in it.
Here is a photo of the sculptor in full flow placing the work in context: