Archive for the ‘public art’ Category

posterMore Oor Wullie statues in Glasgow

As I said in the previous post,  we went around Glasgow a few weeks ago and noticed colorful young boy fiber-glass statues dotted around in front of main sights or on squares. Each of the boys is sitting in the same pose on an upturned bucket, but each is painted and decorated very differently.

We learn that this is Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail of Oor Wee Wullie sculptures and each one has a sign explaining what/who that one is and who is sponsoring it. One of the guides on a City Sightseeing bus explained further. “Oor Wullie”means “Our Willie“  (and “wee” means “small”) and he was/is a beloved comic strip character from the Sunday Postfrom the 1930s until fairly recently. He always used to carry a big bucket around so that he could sit on it. Oor Wullie has a broad smile, cheery face and spikey hair and is one of the most famous images in Scotland.


George Square in Glasgow has a number of Oor Wullie statues

This Oor Wullie Bucket Trail is to raise money for children’s hospitals in Scotland. Another goal of the trail is to highlight Scotland’s diverse culture and heritage.

There are 201 statues around Scotland, 58 of them in Glasgow, and we had a lot of fun randomly finding quite a lot of them. We didn’t have the app or a Wullie map, so we didn’t plan a particular route. But, most of the main sights and buildings in the city have an Oor Wullie statue, and it was interesting to read the plaques to find out the story behind each one.

Here are three more.

steelThe Metal Wullie is on the main George Square. Jason Paterson, a well-known Glasgow artist, wanted to make a different kind of Wullie statue that wasn’t painted. So, he chose steel instead. It was forged with 450 “Oor Wullie” steel stencils, 200 “Bucket Trail” steel stencils and 2,000 pieces of rectangular steel, all welded together to recreate the iconic features of Oor Wullie. The light inside the sculpture projects Oor Wullie across the area, meant to represent a shining beacon of support for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

Metal Wullie is sponsored by DC Thompson Media, the home of Oor Wullie. One of the leading media creators in the UK, the company is headquartered in Dundee with offices in Glasgow, London and other UK cities. They publish newspapers, including the Sunday Post (which published the comic strip), as well as a number of magazines and comics.


O’er the Heathery Braes (above) is outside one of the entrances to Glasgow University.  The creator is Erin Michele O’Shaughnessy, who was inspired by the beauty of Scottish landscapes—the beautiful colors, the heather, the wildlife and the amazing forests. The colors on this Oor Wullie were mostly inspired by breathtaking sunrises. It was sponsored by the Reid-Timoney Charitable Foundation, established by the Timoney family to assist charities that support treatment and care of sick children.


dealThe Scout Oor Wullie (above) is outside the Radisson Red Hotel near the Glasgow Events Campus. Created by David J Mitchell, this is Wullie in his scouting days—in his kilt and neckerchief he’s ready for adventure. It is sponsored by Radisson Red, which has walls covered in comic book characters and a hero team of its own, so Wullie in his red will fit in just fine. The hotel’s bar is also getting into the spirit of the Wullie Trail with a special offer.


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Poster in Museum of Modern Art


Mini Wullie in MOMA

Many cities around the world have had a version of “Animals on Parade”, from Cows in Chicago, to Lippizaners in Vienna, to Buffaloes in Salt Lake City, to Buckie Badgers in Madison WI, to Police Dogs in Chicago. But not always animals, as we followed the 250 Birthday Cakes around St Louis with great interest a few years ago. We’ve seen many of these parades, and had great fun tracking down as many as possible.

So, we were very interested to see that Glasgow has another variant on at the moment (on for 11 weeks from 17thJune, 2019).

As we went around Glasgow a few weeks ago we noticed colorful young boy fiber-glass statues dotted around in front of main sights or on squares. Each of the boys is sitting in the same pose on an upturned bucket, but each is painted and decorated very differently.


Poster in Riverside Transport Museum


Mini Wullie in Riverside Museum

We learn that this is Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail of the Oor Wee Wullie sculptures and each one has a sign explaining what/who that one is and who is sponsoring it. One of the guides on a City Sightseeing bus explained further. “Oor Wullie”means “Our Willie“  (and “wee” means “small”) and he was/is a beloved comic strip character from the Sunday Post from the 1930s until fairly recently. He always used to carry a big bucket around so that he could sit on it.

This Oor Wullie Bucket Trail is to raise money for children’s hospitals in Scotland. There are 201 statues around Scotland, 58 of them in Glasgow. There’s an app and a map, and lots of people are going on the trail, trying to find them all.

We obviously couldn’t do that but it was fun finding some of them and trying to work out who they represented. Besides the statues to help people become aware of the charity, there was a fun run around a big park in Glasgow (and probably others in Scotland) and some museums have mini-Wullie statues and big posters explaining the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail.


Poster advertising the Big Walk

Here are a couple of the fun statues:


Statue of Duke of Wellington


Oor Wullie has a cone too

In front of the Gallery of Modern Art is a horseback  statue of the Duke of Wellington, which always has a traffic cone on its head. The authorities kept moving the cone and it kept re-appearing, so they gave up trying to remove it. The Oor Wullie next to the statue reflects that cone. It’s called Oor Wee Yin’s Banter, created by Rachael Tidmore and sponsored by Young Scot. It is inspired by the Year of Young People in 2018, which celebrated the achievements of young people in Scotland, valued the contributions they made to society and showed that changes in attitudes start with listening to one another.


Wonder Wullie in downtown Glasgow was created by David RG Chapman and sponsored by Wonder World, a Scottish children’s entertainment company.


carrouselCarrousel was close to our hotel (the Hilton Garden Inn by the Conference Venue) at the start of the “Squinty” Bridge. It was created by Lisa Cunningham,  inspired by her love of carnivals and colors. The sponsor is M&D’s Scotland’s Theme Park, a park with free entry for all.



Carrousel—example of a sign

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IMG_4824We Will

By sculptor Richard Hunt, 2005, welded stainless steel

As people know, I love public art of all kinds and Chicago is famous for its outdoor public art. So, whenever we are in the city I try to find a few more pieces. This sculpture is on Randolph Street, very close to the Culture Center. The form is interesting, both angular and rounded, with the suggestion of reaching up to the sky. The name is a teaser: “We Will” makes one wonder what it is we will do.

Richard Howard Hunt (born 1925) in Chicago has over 125 sculptures on display in the USA, some in Chicago. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and still lives and works in Chicago. He has received many awards.



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“Forward” outside Madison State Capitol. Note “Wisconsin” statue on top of the Capitol dome

Earlier, I mentioned the statue “Wisconsin” on top of the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol on Madison. Another important statue linked to the Capitol is called “Forward”.

The woman on top of the Capitol dome is named “Wisconsin”, although she’s often misidentified as “Miss Forward”. Perhaps that’s because she was placed on the Capitol dome as a symbol of the state’s motto, ‘Forward’ and to represent ‘the spirit of Wisconsin progress’.

The statue at the State Street corner of the Capitol Square is also often misidentified as “Miss Forward”, but “Forward” would be more accurate. However, actually this is a replica of the original “Forward”, which is now in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s HQ. Originally placed at the entrance of the Capitol in 1895, the original was moved to North Hamilton Street in 1916, where it stayed until 1995, when it was moved because of damage by the elements. So, a bronze replica was made and installed at the State Street entrance to the Capitol.

The 7-foot-tall original “Forward” was created by Wisconsin sculptress Jean Pond Miner. She made it for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, when she fulfilled a plaquecommission to create art representative of her native state. She felt that “Forward” was a symbol of devotion and progress, special qualities of Wisconsin.

Miner was born in Menasha, Wisconsin in 1865 and grew up in Madison. She graduated from Downer College in Fox Lake and continued her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. She planned to become a portrait painter, but her classes with famous sculptor Lorado Taft convinced her to change her major. In 1893, Taft and the Janesville Ladies Afternoon Club recommended her for an artist-in-residence position at the Columbian Exposition. Hence this lovely statue.

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Alumni Park, between Red Gym and the Memorial Union


Badger Pride Wall


Badger Pride Wall, night

Alumni Park is on campus, between the Memorial Union and the Red Gym. This spot was chosen for the park, as it’s the most popular entryway into campus.

The idea of a park-like promenade in this spot was included in the 1908 Campus masters plan, a dream that was finally realized in 2017. In 2009 Alumni Association president Paula Bonner decided to work on this idea again (it was then a parking lot) and worked very hard to get donations, find artists etc. I’m told that this is the first such Alumni Park in the USA.




harleyThis pretty spot tells stories of the university and its graduates and the ways they changed the world. It is just 1.3 acres but has many plants and shrubs, and on the edge is the 80-foot Badger Pride Wall, designed by Nate Koehler. It’s lovely by day, but really striking at night when it is specially lit up.

Alumni Way winding through the center of the park has various exhibit panels telling about ideas and achievements of UWM alumni, such as William Harley (1880-1943) of Harley-Davidson fame, who got a degree in mechanical engineering here in 1907. He and Arthur Davidson founded the company in 1903.


WellredOn the lake side of the park, a big Bucky sculpture welcomes visitors to the park. Called “Well Red”, this 8-foot-high glass and bronze sculpture was created by sculptor Douwe Blumberg, with glass artist Dan Neil Barnes. Clever name, as the idea of reading is the link to a university, and red to the main color of the university mascot, Bucky the Badger.


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Corner butterfly—mural story on either side

Public art and murals have been a big part of life in Chicago for many years. This was furthered even more in 2013 when Columbia College Chicago started the Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) to help creative students use urban spaces and reclaimable resources to revitalize the South Loop’s business district. As we saw from the few murals that we found, they definitely succeeded.

Then, in 2017, the mayor of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events designated 2017 as “The Year of Public Art”, which encouraged even more community art projects. I did mention the Year of Public Art earlier (see here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/chicago-creativity-on-the-streets/).


Butterflies behind a fence that is beginning to break open



Shaking off the chains

We were really impressed with a beautiful mural just opposite our hotel (the Best Western Grant Park, corner of Michigan and 11th), painted on two walls. Where the walls join was a very large butterflyand on either side a butterfly story. It started with chains behind which the butterflies appeared to be trapped. But, then the chains started to break and the butterflies were flying out free. It seems to be very symbolic and have a positive meaning, maybe related to the plight of the butterflies but also to that of humankind perhaps. A


Flying free

symbol of hope. What do you think?

Since I wrote the previous post about Chicago  and this one I have found a couple of good lists of other murals in Chicago. So hopefully next year, when the weather starts warming up, we can go on a mural quest to find some of these.



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stories“If Statues Could Talk, What Stories Would They Tell?”

This summer, Chicago started a new venture to make the already-wonderful public art even more interesting. They are having some of the statues “tell stories”.

The City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District worked together with Statues Stories Chicago and arts producers Sing London to animate 30 statues dotted across the city. Some of Chicago’s actors, writers, and theaters are giving voice to these statues, each statue telling an appropriate story or making comments.

How it works: the statues that are involved have a plaque nearby that people can swipe with a smart phone.  They then get a “call back” from the statue at no cost, except normal network charges.

The project will run until August 2020.

The idea began in Britain. Chicago is the first US city to get “Statue Stories”.  The press


Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, is one of the “talking statues”

has been impressed and has run many stories about the statue stories. See here: http://www.statuestorieschicago.com/press.php

We didn’t see many of the statues this time, as we only found out about the project towards the end of our weekend in the city. But, hopefully we will be back a couple of times before the project ends.  Here’s a list of the “talking” statues:


You can click on each one and get a photo of the statue, a map of where to find it, and information about the actor and writer.

Here are photos of seven of the statues in the Loop—we took these over a couple of visits.

Miro’s Chicago, Brunswick Plaza


Cloud Gate, Millennium Park

The Picasso, Richard J. Daley Plaza


Spirit of Music, Grant Park


Brachiosaurus, outside Field Museum


Lake Ontario, Spirit of the Great Lakes, Art Institute South Garden


Bronze Cow, Chicago Cultural Center



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