Were you one of ‘The Audience?’

The Audience, one of the pieces of Glenrothes town art, at Ralston Court
The Audience, one of the pieces of Glenrothes town art, at Ralston Court

The much-loved Glenrothes town art will finally receive the recognition many local people feel it deserves.

Four of the art works are considered so culturally significant that they have been designated as listed buildings by Historic Scotland, giving them protected status.

And the people behind this recognition are looking for the townspeople that inspired one of the many works in the town to get involved in the launch of an established walking route round Glenrothes’ town art.

The faces of school pupils immortalised in the Glenrothes public sculpture “The Audience” are the focus of a search by Historic Scotland, ahead of a new Town Art Walk being launched by the Agency later this month.

“The Audience”, situated in Ralston Court, in the Newcastle area of the town, was created in 1993 by town artist Malcom Robertson and is one of many public art works to feature in the Walk.

Historic Scotland wants to track down the former youngsters for a photo call at the sculpture on November 29th, the day of the launch.

The Walk, soon to be available on a web site and featuring a downloadable booklet, celebrates the town’s distinctive and diverse public art, which dates from 1965 to the present.

Many of the works were inspired by local history and can be viewed individually or as a collective whole.

Their unique character has now been recognised with the creation of the Walk, and includes “Ex Terra” by Benno Schotz (1965), “Henge” by David Harding (1970), and “The Birds” by town artist Malcolm Robertson (1980), who also created “The Audience” (1993).

To raise awareness of the new Town Walk, the Agency is inviting former pupils involved with “The Audience” to come forward for a rare photo opportunity.

With over 200 children being involved in the original project, drawn from Newcastle Primary and Glenwood High School, Historic Scotland is hopeful that some of the original subjects will still be living locally.

“We would be delighted to hear from anyone willing to celebrate the remarkable town art of Glenrothes with a one-off photo that will reflect the growth of the town and its remarkable collection of public art,” said Historic Scotland’s Head of Listing and Designed Landscapes, Elizabeth McCrone.

Malcolm Robertson, the former town artist who created ‘The Audience’, is delighted that his 1993 piece is to be celebrated in this way.

He said: “It’s a great idea.

“At the time, this artwork tied into the upgrading of that particular play area and there was other concrete artworks already there by David Harding.

“It was all part and parcel of the upgrade.

“And because it was in the shadow of the Newcastle Primary School we thought we should involve the kids from there.

“We actually made the tiles in the school itself.

“We rolled out these big clay- pancakes I guess you could call them, and we then gave each child a tile and paired them up. Then they did a portrait of each other, and there was one of a teacher also I seem to remember.

“I did visit Glenwood High School as well for this piece but it was just the pupils from Newcastle Primary School involved in that actual work.

“The High School kids did another part.

“It took a few months to do it all. We made a couple of visits. I fired the tiles at my workshop and brought them back to go on the wall.

“It was a great project, and it was nice to get the kids involved in that.

“It was in the same spirit of a tile project that David Harding had done in Tanshall much earlier.

“It’s great that the town art works is still being celebrated, and the fact that we are now getting that recognition from Historic Scotland is great.”

Glenrothes MSP Tricia Marwick, a strong supporter of the town’s art, backed these plans.

She said: “I am delighted that Historic Scotland is continuing to highlight the wonderful town art we have in Glenrothes.

“The plan to recreate ‘The Audience’ sounds fantastic and I would encourage everyone who participated in the original project back in 1993 to come forward for this nostalgic photo opportunity.

“This event is ahead of ‘The Town Art Walks’ which will be launched by Historic Scotland later on this month.

“I understand that this online initiative will feature a downloadable booklet, which celebrates our town art and highlights the exciting sculptures we have in Glenrothes.

“Ever since I launched my Glenrothes town art campaign, the feedback I have had from so many town residents has been overwhelming.

“Our town art makes Glenrothes the place it is today and I am so pleased that my campaign has been the catalyst to ensure it gets the recognition it truly deserves.”

Mrs Marwick initially requested the town’s art to be given protected status after a successful Gazette campaign back in September 2009 to restore the Rothes Remembered sculpture to its rightful position in the Rothes Halls.

Following Mrs Marwick’s art appeal, Historic Scotland undertook a thematic study of Glenrothes’ art work and consulted locals.

As part of her campaign, Mrs Marwick repeatedly raised this issue in the Scottish Parliament and also welcomed senior officials from Historic Scotland to Glenrothes for a personal tour of the town art.

n Any of the original subjects for “The Audience” wishing to take part in the photo call should contact Historic Scotland, by email, at hs.communications@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.