Four giant origami swans will soon be flying high over an Aberdeen community as the public have voted for the art sculpture they’d most like to see brought to life.
The swans, which will be made of metal and mounted on tall poles, were the clear favourite of the four potential sculptures put forward by the Tillydrone Gateway Project.
Their proposed new home is near Diamond Bridge in Tillydrone, where it is hoped they will become as well recognised as the leopard sculpture based at Marischal Square.
“They are bold, eye-catching and have a huge wow-factor,” said Sean McVeigh, who has been part of the Tillydrone Gateway Project since it was set up two years ago.
“I think that’s what swung it for the voters, they are going to look incredible.
“It was really important to us that the sculpture fitted the heritage and history of Tillydrone and the swans match that well.
“Of course we have the family of swans who live beside the river, but the fact these swans are origami also gives a nod to the paper mills the area was famous for.”
The artist behind the idea is Fife sculptor David Annand, whose winning entry beat kingfishers, spinning tops and abstract trees to the top spot.
His design was picked by residents from Tillydrone and across the wider city in an online survey set up by the Tillydrone Gateway Project.
The idea was to use the results of this survey to inform the decision of the expert design panel – who ultimately had the final say.
But things didn’t turn out quite as Sean and his colleagues expected.
“All the designs got really positive feedback but the public consultation was so overwhelmingly in favour of David’s swans that we felt we just couldn’t go against that in any way,” he said.
“We were expecting a much more split opinion – certainly our panel of judges had real differing opinions on all the sculptures – but the people of Tillydrone have chosen the swans and we are delighted to have them as the winner.”
Next steps involve the Tillydrone Gateway Project organisers meeting with the artist to work out the finer details of the sculpture before final planning permission can be granted by the council.
Planning permission will determine exactly where the swans will live.
A grassy plot at the bottom of Diamond Bridge is the current front runner, where it is hoped that motorists will see the swans and recognise that they are entering a residential area.
“We’ve had some problems with folk speeding over the bridge and through Tillydrone far too quickly,” said Sean. “Part of the purpose of the sculpture will be to remind drivers they are in a residential neighbourhood and to slow down.”
The other job of the swans will be to help bring the local community together and improve Tillydrone for all its residents.
“Art and culture are so necessary to help regenerate areas,” said Sean, a Tillydrone resident himself.
“Eradicating poverty isn’t just about putting money in someone’s pocket, it’s about the conditions that you live in, where you live, your pride in the community, the ownership you feel and the sense of responsibility you have for your neighbourhood.
“These are the kind of things that have been lost in recent times, although they seem to have begun to come back over the period of the pandemic.”
The cost of the swans is expected to be around £50,000 and will be primarily be paid for by charity and art grants secured by the organisers.
“We’ve also been considering a crowdfunder,” said Sean.
“There were a few folk who completed the survey who asked how they could contribute cash to the project, so we’ve been thinking that perhaps people can make a donation in exchange for having their name etched onto the steel poles of the swans or something.
“I’d just love for names of people in the community to be memorialised on the piece and maybe in the future folk will be showing their grandchildren their names on this pole in 30 or 40 years’ time.
“That’s the sort of longevity and community feel we are after.”