5 Aug 2011

an alternative view about the Star of Caledonia

Star of Caledonia a bright and brave Border landmark

Published 05 July 2011 in the Scotsman

CONGRATULATIONS to structural designer Cecil Balmond in conjuring up, through the swirling mists of constitutional uncertainty and the bleak gloom of our financial circumstances, a giant, soaring, jewel-encrusted sculpture - the Star of Caledonia - to straddle the Border with England.
It is a fitting landmark at an iconic location and should inspire first time visitors and returning Scots alike - so long as the vandals don't get at it. Other shapes - a swirling claymore, a sparkling clump of heather, a permanently gurgling bottle of whisky - would have dragged us into banal cliché, triggering a torrent of caustic derision.

Mr Balmond has avoided the conventional symbols and the vainglorious posturing of the grandiose in favour of a design that is novel and inspirational in equal measure. How wise not to have opted for a giant bronze statue of Grandpa Broon, or a massive can of Irn Bru, or Jimmy Shand playing on a diamond-encrusted accordion, the music broadcast through tannoys cemented into the roadside to keep up travellers' morale. Mr Balmond has done well to dodge these images and celebrate instead the enduring contribution of Scottish civil engineering. As such, the Caledonian Star is a tribute to our past as well as a beacon to our future (toilets and services: two miles).

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