A new steel leopard sculpture by the world-renowned artist behind the Kelpies could put Aberdeen on the map, according to a senior councillor.
Standing at 15 metres high and weighing more than two tonnes, the towering sculpture, by Andy Scott, was unveiled for the first time at the £107 million Marischal Square development yesterday.
Scott, whose most prominent project to date has been the Kelpies – a pair of 30m, 300-tonne horse heads in Falkirk – was commissioned by developers Muse Developments and Aviva Investors, to create a public artwork on the site.
Speaking at the unveiling, the sculptor – who works in steel and bronze to create landmark artworks in a range of locations across the world including New York, Sydney and Chicago – said he had chosen to name the artwork “Poised”.
He said: “He’s poised, ready to pounce.
“He’s also poised the way we all are in Aberdeen where economic things are all changing, in Scotland the way things are changing, and the world in fact.
“I just felt that the title ‘Poised’, about to move, about to jump, about to leap forward, is a title that suited.”
Scott said it was “particularly special” to see his sculpture lifted into position on a 10m high steel column earlier this week.
He added: “That was a precarious and nerve-wracking moment but we got it there and it looks absolutely spectacular.
“They gave me a very open brief and I came up with it.
“I just felt it was particularly appropriate for this location and the scale of it and it’s worked very well, I’m pleased to say.
“The scale of this atrium space demanded that it had to be very big and we wanted to keep the ground floor level as open as possible for pedestrians and occupiers to use the space.
“So we wanted it elevated but the only way I could think to do that was by having a column and it all fell into place from there.”
The new work will form a key element of the open-to-the-public sections of the development and will be on display in the enclosed atrium space from Friday, November 3.
Marie Boulton, lead councillor for the City Centre Masterplan, said the artwork ties in with the city’s heritage.
She added: “I think it’s brilliant.
“It sums up how Aberdeen is at the moment – we’re poised for the next 10 years and the next major thing to happen. This is obviously Marischal Square and I think people will be blown away by it.
“There’s quite a tourist industry now of people doing a sculpture trail and I’d like to think this could be very high up on somebody’s list because it’s new, it’s contemporary, it’s by a well-known artist and, of course, you’re coming to a beautiful city.”
Stephen Turner, Muse Developments’ director, Scotland, said the decision to work with Andy Scott was a significant moment for everyone involved in the project.
He added: “The whole development is coming together really well and we’re delighted with the quality of the scheme which we are producing and the appearance of it, I think, is fantastic.
“Andy Scott’s sculpture just adds the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.
“It will be of great interest to anyone coming into Aberdeen and it’s going to raise the public awareness of our scheme.
“If you look at Andy’s work and history and the massive impact made by The Kelpies in Falkirk, you can see why we are all delighted to work with him on a project which we believe will be huge for the development and the city.”
Mr Turner said the development’s public outdoor space will be finished within the next 10 days then opened to the public.
He added: “Part of it is open already so people can get access to the hotel which has been open for a few days.
“The bars and restaurants we’ve signed up, Mackies and one of the others, will be open this side of Christmas and they’re all going to start fitting out in the next few days.
“Then, by this time in January, they should all be up and open.”